Revenue from those products — versions of Mobileye’s EyeQ chipset are in about 140 million vehicles from 50 automakers — is funding the development of increasingly sophisticated autonomous driving systems. These newer systems will build on each other, generating revenue and avoiding much of the successive “stratospheric” validation expenses required to add capabilities to automated and self-driving systems, Shashua told Automotive News.
Mobileye estimates it will collect about $2.1 billion in sales this year. It forecasts an operating loss of about $100 million as it invests in new generations of chipsets for assisted and autonomous driving technology.
“Mobileye has a good business strategy, a big footprint and cost advantages,” Ramsey said. “Their equipment is cheap and highly capable.”
The company’s relationship with Volkswagen Group demonstrates how this strategy is progressing.
VW already uses Mobileye’s EyeQ chipsets for basic self-driving features. Volkswagen also was the first to adopt Mobileye’s crowd-sourced, cloud-enhanced data as a self-driving augmentation, Shashua said.
The system helps cars know their exact location based on Mobileye’s Road Experience Management high-precision mapping system.
Mobileye’s chipsets can pair with a vehicle’s front-facing camera to collect route information in tiny bits of data and send them to the cloud.
“The idea is to extract data from stationary objects in the world. These are landmarks like traffic signs, traffic lights, lanes, poles, reflectors, anything that is stationary,” Shashua said.
It relies on recognition information rather than data-heavy images and costs about $1 per vehicle per year to upload, he said. Mobileye has data from 90 percent of the roads in North America and Europe, thanks to millions of vehicles equipped with the system.
Vehicles traveling the same route mapped through this system will know how to track a path with centimeter-level accuracy when lane markings are poorly delineated, partially visible or absent.
Volkswagen’s relationship with Mobileye is only growing deeper, partly because of the shuttering last year of Argo AI, the autonomous vehicle technology company it backed with Ford Motor Co.
The German automaker believes automated driving is becoming ever-more central to the customer experience, whether in a private vehicle or for broader mobility services, said spokesperson Fabian Lebersorger.
Automation, however, has two branches.
“In the area of private vehicles, the brands of the Volkswagen Group offer their customers advanced driver-assistance systems. Mobileye is a proven technology partner for the group in this area,” Lebersorger said.