Ford expands partnership with Mobileye, Intel's autonomous driving business

Ford is making big investments in autonomous driving -- now it's using Mobileye's vision-sensing technology to improve driver-assist features, such as forward collision warning and lane centering
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

Ford is expanding its partnership with Mobileye, the Intel-owned autonomous driving technology business, the companies announced Monday. Ford plans to customize Mobileye's vision-sensing technology to improve its existing driver-assist features, such as forward collision warning; vehicle, pedestrian and cyclist detection; and lane centering. 

The two companies have worked together for years, but this agreement marks the first time Ford has committed to using Mobileye technology for the entire lifecycle of its next-generation vehicles. 

Specifically, Ford plans to improve its Ford Co-Pilot360 technology with Mobileye's EyeQ system-on-chip (SoC) devices and its vision-processing software. The improvements will support Level 1 and Level 2 systems in Ford vehicles globally. According to the Society of Automotive Engineers, Level 1 systems a single automated feature -- either automated steering or automated acceleration/braking -- while Level 2 systems provide both steering and acceleration/braking support. 

Mobileye will also help support Ford's upcoming Active Drive Assist hands-free driving feature, in the new Mustang Mach-E and the new F-150. Ford is also evaluating the use of Mobileye's Roadbook system, which uses anonymized, crowd-sourced data from vehicle cameras to build high-definition maps. 

The deal could also help Mobileye raise its profile among consumers -- Ford plans to display the Mobileye logo in its SYNC driver-assist communication displays. 

While consumers may associate autonomous driving with brands like Tesla, a recent analysis by Navigant Research showed that Ford's autonomous vehicle efforts ranked second only to those of Google spinoff Waymo, in terms of strategy and execution. Partnerships have been key to Ford's efforts -- in addition to Mobileye, the auto company has teamed up with Volkswagen to invest in the self-driving startup Argo.ai. Back in 2018, Ford committed to spending  $4 billion through 2023 on the development of its self-driving service.

Mobileye, for its part, continues to build its own global footprint. Currently, it makes up a small fraction of Intel's overall business, but it's growing at a healthy pace. In Intel's last reported quarterly results, the chipmaker said Mobileye revenue was $254 million, up 22 percent year-over-year.  By comparison, Intel's total revenues came to nearly $20 billion, growing at 23 percent.

Last fall, Mobileye detailed plans to keep growing with expanded forays into data monetization and the nascent robotaxi market. Earlier this year, the company furthered its robotaxi ambitions with a $900 million acquisition of Moovit, a mobility-as-a-service company with one of the world's most popular transit apps.It also recently inked a deal with Willer, one of the largest transportation operators in Japan, to launch an autonomous robotaxi service in Southeast Asia. 

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