Sources inform "Globes" that a few weeks ago billionaire Elon Musk, owner of electric car maker Tesla and promoter of various energy and space ventures, secretly visited Israel. Musk flew to Israel in a private plane to visit Mobileye (NYSE: MBLY), which is developing key components for Tesla's automatic driving system Autopilot, which the company intends to launch commercially within the next few years.
Automotive industry sources say the aim of the visit was to view a demonstration of several breakthrough developments by Mobileye in this field installed on a trial Tesla Model S vehicle. Two vehicles of this type have been in Israel for some time and are being used in the development of the automated system.
The system Mobileye is developing for Tesla is the first of its kind in the world, and it combines several advanced technologies that enable the vehicle to identify its environment, avoid obstacles, and move without driver intervention. Among the technologies are a system called DNN (digital neural network), which enables the vehicle to "learn" by gathering data on the move, and even to identify different kinds of road surface; free-space, which enables the automatic vehicle's systems to identify areas without defined objects such as hard shoulders of roads, sidewalks, and so on, and avoid collisions and deviations from the road; a "holistic path prediction", which enables a vehicle to select the correct path - on an open road, for example - even when there are no visual hints in the environment; and a sign identification system that can identify over 1,000 signs and road markings in use around the world.
As far as is known, Mobileye's system, which will be installed on the electric Tesla S and other Tesla models, will be modular, with some of its built-in capabilities being dormant initially, and ready to come into operation when regulatory barriers to automatic vehicles are removed. Mobileye declined to comment on the report.
General Motors has also recently started recruiting people in Israel in order to expand its research and development center in Herzliya. Among other things, the company intends to develop key parts of its future automated driving system in Israel.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 29, 2016
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