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Last Trade - 16/04/21

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Mobileye looks to build its own lidar to drive down self-driving costs

Tue 15th December, 2020 6:02pm
By Stephen Nellis
    Dec 15 (Reuters) - The chief executive of Intel Corp-owned
 INTC.O  Mobileye on Tuesday laid out plans for a self-driving
car system for 2025 that could use house-built lidar sensors
rather than units from Luminar Technologies Inc  LAZR.O  and
cost a "few thousand" dollars.
    Mobileye is making rapid progress toward a full autonomous
driving system using cameras and a custom-made processor chip,
but the company plans to augment its cameras with lidar and
radar sensors that will capture a three-dimensional view of the
road. Mobileye believes it can meet the safety and reliability
requirements automakers are demanding for production vehicles by
combining the two approaches.
    Mobileye has deals to supply its current camera-based driver
assistance systems to BMW  BMWG.DE , Volkswagen AG  VOWG_p.DE 
and Nissan Motor Co  7201.T . Those systems help with tasks such
as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping and but also
generate and transmit mapping data for Mobileye as they drive.
    Amnon Shashua, CEO of Mobileye and an Intel senior vice
president, told Reuters that data allowed the company's test
vehicle to autonomously navigate the streets of Munich with only
a week of setup and without flying any engineers from Mobileye
headquarters in Israel to Germany.
    "This is a critical milestone - this is what you need for
scalability. If you want to have a system at the consumer level,
it has to be able to drive everywhere," he told Reuters after
the company posted footage of the successful test, which used a
human safety driver as a backup.
    Mobileye plans to demonstrate its camera-based systems with
safety drivers in several more cities before rolling out a test
fleet of 100 completely driverless vehicles augmented with lidar
and radar in Tel Aviv in 2022.
    In November, Mobileye said it had selected Luminar to supply
lidar units starting in 2022. Luminar began trading as a public
company earlier this month after a merger with Gores Metropoulos
Inc, a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.
 urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2IJ19R
    Shashua said the Luminar-based systems will cost between
$10,000 and $20,000 and will be targeted at robo-taxis, which
are commercial vehicles that can spread the cost of the system
over many trips. But for 2025, Mobileye is developing its own
lidar sensor that works on a principle called frequency
modulated continuous wave, or FMCW, which is different from
Luminar's technology.
    Shashua said the FMCW technology will benefit from Intel's
silicon photonics manufacturing expertise and will drive costs
low enough for consumer cars. He said the house-built Mobileye
lidar, in combination with cameras and radar, will be used on
consumer vehicles and could also replace Luminar's units in
Mobileye-powered robo-taxis. 
    "We believe the cost of an entire self-driving system can be
in the few thousand dollar range, and that brings us into a
consumer vehicle position," he said. "If we can make this work,
it will also be used for robotaxis. But we have time to make
that decision five years from today."
    Mobileye does plan to continue outsourcing the manufacturing
of its processor chips, Shashua said. He said the next
generation of chip, called the EyeQ6 and expected to arrive in
2023, will continue to be made by Taiwan Semiconductor
Manufacturing Co's  2330.TW  using its 7-nanometer chipmaking
process.

 (Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Lisa
Shumaker)
 ((Stephen.Nellis@thomsonreuters.com; (415) 344-4934;))
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