It’s also the first company to test self-driving technology in New York City, even though other companies have been testing it in California, Arizona, and other places, according to
For now, the company is test driving two cars in New York, with plans to increase the fleet to seven in the next few months. It’s planning for the technology to be used on driverless taxi fleets and in vehicles for personal use.
Challenges faced by self-driving cars in New York
Mobileye’s Ford Fusion sedans have been driving around Manhattan, New York’s densest borough.
New York City presents new challenges to self-driving cars that don’t apply to other places—like crowded streets, difficult driving dynamics, and even a state law that requires a driver to always keep at least one hand on the steering wheel.
In fact, Mobileye had to get a special permit in response to that steering wheel law. The company received permits after showing the results of test drives in other cities.
Now, safety drivers in Mobileye’s vehicles are allowed to keep their hands off the steering wheels entirely while testing the technology in New York.
Hands-free driving in New York City also typically requires a police escort, but Mobileye’s test cars have been allowed to operate without them.
Cities and self-driving cars
Cities in general are difficult environments for self-driven cars. New York City has a default speed limit of 25 mph, and it’s not unusual for cars to drive at such a slow speed in many other cities as well.
In addition, there are a variety of other challenges self-driving cars encounter in cities, like construction, double-parked cars, pedestrians crossing the streets and in New York City in particular, horse-drawn carriages. New Yorkers also have a reputation of being more aggressive drivers.
The safety driver testing the self-driving car in New York currently provides assistance in certain situations that might one day be handled by a remote operator—such as dealing with a police officer or construction worker directing traffic.
Currently if the car encounters a jaywalker, it responds by nudging its way forward to show that it intends to continue rather than coming to a full stop.
Radar vs. cameras for self-driving cars
The company’s test cars in New York rely on a suite of 12 different cameras. They don’t use radar or lidar sensors, which are often described as having benefits over the cameras, like being able to see through rain and snow.
But Mobileye is testing other cars with lidar and radar and no cameras in Israel. The plan is to combine the systems once they can safely navigate on their own.
Mapping the future
Mobileye was founded in 1999 and is best known for its camera vision technology. In 2017, it was purchased by Intel for a whopping $15 billion.
In fact, the company’s computer vision systems are already used on many vehicles on roads today, since it is a supplier to most major automakers. It also has been using those vehicles to collect detailed 3D map data through information transmitted anonymously.
In addition to New York, Mobileye has been testing its self-driving cars in
Tel Aviv, Munich, Detroit, Tokyo, and around Shanghai