CES 2021: Intel's Mobileye touts new Lidar silicon chip for autonomous vehicles

Intel's autonomous driving subsidiary detailed its AV strategy and latest technology gains as part of its virtual appearance at this year's all digital CES 2021.
Written by Natalie Gagliordi, Contributor

Intel's autonomous driving subsidiary Mobileye detailed its AV strategy and latest technology gains as part of its virtual appearance at this year's all digital CES 2021.

Mobileye CEO Amnon Shashua said the company has been focused on a technology trinity that includes Mobileye's automatically generated, crowdsourced high-definition maps; a driving policy based on Responsibility-Sensitive Safety (RSS); and the company's camera-first mature sensing technology. Combined with a new Lidar SoC manufactured using Intel silicon, Mobileye posits that it will be able to scale its autonomous driving technology for mass consumer use by 2025.

Mobileye, which was acquired by Intel for $15 billion in 2017, plans to kickstart its long term AV vision with the launch of a robotaxi fleet sometime in 2022.

"Consumer AV will take some time, therefore if we want to start practicing, we have to start with robotaxis," Shashua said in his CES keynote. "Then we can build the radar Lidar subsystem. Our first-generation robotaxis will be based on Luminar Lidar." 

As for the new Lidar SoC expected in 2025, using Intel's specialized silicon photonics fab, Mobileye said it's been able to put active and passive laser elements on a silicon chip. 

"This is really game-changing," Shashua said. "And we call this a photonic integrated circuit, PIC. It has 184 vertical lines, and then those vertical lines are moved through optics. Having fabs that are able to do that, that's very, very rare. So this gives Intel a significant advantage in building these lidars."

Mobileye's mapping technology uses a camera as the primary sensor combined with a secondary, redundant sensing system that the company said ensures safety-critical performance that is at least three orders of magnitude safer than humans. Mobileye said its software-defined imaging radar technology represents a paradigm shift in architecture that will lead to significant performance gains.

Meanwhile, Mobileye's crowdsourced mapping technology, REM, relies on technology deployed on nearly 1 million vehicles already equipped with Mobileye advanced driver-assistance systems to automatically produce maps in the cloud. Mobileye posits that this automated and crowdsourced map-making strategy is crucial to an AV's ability to understand and contextualize its environment. 

Mobileye is also touting its RSS system as a way to expand AVs to the mass market. RSS is a rules-based means of defining for an autonomous vehicle what it means to be careful. Shashua said RSS is one of the company's crown jewels of achievement and will help propel Mobileye's AV testing to new areas.

"By embedding our RSS into the algorithm, we can move from territory to territory without testing," Shashua said. 

To demonstrate the scalability of these automatic AV maps, the company said it plans to expand its AV test fleets this year with new vehicles expected in Detroit, Tokyo, Shanghai, Paris and New York City.

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