Autonomous vehicles are the way of the future, but can Israel lead the way with self-driving technology? A freshly-inked deal between Israeli startup Innoviz and a prominent car manufacturer may hold the answer to this question.
BMW recently announced that they will be installing InnovizOne LiDAR sensors in their autonomous vehicles starting in 2021. As part of the deal, Innoviz will partner with Magna, a Canada-based ADAS supplier.
The systems from Innoviz will be capable of supporting level 3, 4 and even level 5 autonomy.
CEO Omar Keilaf says solid-state LiDAR is superior to spinning and other forms of LiDAR technology.
The LiDAR system, which is MEMS-based, has a modular design that can be integrated into most vehicle platforms and allow for some level of self-driving capability. In BMW’s case, the sensor will be a part of the MAX4 autonomous driving platform, which was unveiled last year.
What’s interesting about Innoviz’s solid-state LiDAR is that the system generates a 3D point cloud of the vehicle’s surroundings and in real-time. It works in multi-LiDAR environments and even in challenging conditions, like bad weather and direct sunlight.
An analysis from ABI Research last month projected that eight million consumer vehicles will ship with Level 3-5 autonomy by 2025. If that proves to be true, the road as we know it may be changed forever. And Israel, through its startups, may help pave the way to these innovations.
“For conditional and high-level automation applications within the consumer market, i.e., SAE Level 3 and Level 4, solid state LiDAR solutions from companies such as Innoviz and LeddarTech have emerged as the LiDAR form factor that will not only help enable robust sensing on autonomous vehicles but also, more importantly, satisfy stringent pricing requirements set by OEMs,” ABI says in its report.
Keilaf says the company’s production facility in Haifa can produce a few thousand devices per month. He also says the company can easily adjust to a higher scale quickly, and they have plans to open a second production line in China next year.
Autonomous vehicles still have a long way to go before they become a staple on the roadway. We’re still working out the kinks, and at times, working out those kinks can have devastating consequences.
Uber’s autonomous vehicle program in the U.S. was put on hold after a series of crashes and one fatality, the most recent in Arizona. America is currently testing autonomous vehicles in California, Arizona, Washington and Nevada.
In Israel, we’ve only just begun testing autonomous vehicles. In late 2017, we opened a stretch of highway (about a kilometer and a half long) designed purely for the testing of self-driving cars. But many car makers want to test on public roadways, which are less controlled. We may be slowly working toward allowing testing on roadways, but it will take some time before we get there.
In the meantime, Israeli startups are working hard on advanced technology for autonomous vehicles. Innoviz is one such company, which may make level 5 autonomy a reality in the not-so-distant future.