Mobileye, the Israeli computer vision firm that’s currently in the process of being acquired by chip giant Intel for $15.3 billion, has announced a new tie-up with automotive giant Nissan to generate “anonymized, crowdsourced data” for precision mapping in autonomous cars.
Founded in 1999, Mobileye builds the visual smarts behind cars’ driver assistance systems that include adaptive cruise control and lane departure warnings. Its technology is already used by the likes of BMW, Volvo, Buick, and Cadillac, and last summer Mobileye announced a partnership with BMW and Intel to put self-driving cars into full production by 2021. The trio later committed to putting 40 autonomous test cars on public roads in the second half of 2017, before Intel went all-in and decided to buy Mobileye outright.
For self-driving cars to become a reality, carmakers and the technology companies they work with need access to accurate maps of roads and the environment around which autonomous cars will operate — these high-definition maps complement on-board sensors and add an additional level of safety. Mobileye’s existing Road Experience Management (REM) engine is essentially a mapping and localization toolset that can use any camera-equipped vehicle to capture and process data around geometry and physical landmarks, send it to the cloud, and then feed this back into autonomous car systems using minimal bandwidth. It’s basically a crowdsourced data collection effort using millions of cars already on the roads.
Mobileye already powers Nissan’s recently announced ProPilot, a system that’s similar to Tesla’s AutoPilot offering, which can already automate some car functions on the road, including steering and acceleration. And with Nissan recently kicking of its first self-driving car trials in London, it seems now is the time for Mobileye to work with Nissan to boost its crowdsourced mapping efforts.
This adds another major automaker to Mobileye’s existing roster of REM partners, which include the previously announced General Motors and Volkswagen, while the likes of Audio, BMW, and Daimler are on board via their ownership of the HERE mapping platform that partnered with Mobileye last year.
The more carmakers sign up to integrate Mobileye’s REM, the more data can be combined to scale the system to cover every locale where humans drive.