General Motors' development center is carrying out trials on public roads in Israel of prototypes of Cadillacs with high-level autonomous driving systems. Ministry of Transport chief scientist Dr. Shay Soffer took part in one of the trials on the Ayalon Highway, Gil Golan, CEO of General Motors Israel's advanced development center, today revealed at the CARS 2018 auto conference, sponsored by the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce and "Globes," which opened yesterday.
Golan did not say which models of the brand were involved, but they are probably Cadillac's luxury and field vehicles equipped with the new Super Cruise autonomous system unveiled by GM in the US several months ago. The system, which is currently offered as a $5,000 option for a number of models of the brand in the US market, enables a vehicle to cruise without the driver's intervention on high-speed roads, including overtaking, emergency braking, and moderate turns.
According to overseas sources, a considerable proportion of the advanced system's development and its next generations is taking place in the advanced development center in Herzliya. Golan says that the center in Israel is now developing technologies for vehicles that will reach the market in 2-5 years, as part of GM's vision of focusing on an electric vehicle and fully autonomous vehicles, which will be first offered in 2019 for public transportation, and afterwards also for the private market.
GM's technologies being developed in Israel include connecting vehicles to next-generation communications (5G networks), wireless charging stations, advanced sensors, artificial intelligence, etc. The General Motors development center in Israel has 300 employees, most of them with advanced degrees, and the number will continue to grow.
Up until now, only Mobileye has conducted autonomous vehicle trials of external manufacturers on public roads.
In a panel about the autonomous vehicle, Golan stated that the auto revolution was unstoppable, and that one of the background factors contributing to it was the accelerating fall in the worldwide price of electricity, among other things due to increased utilization of solar energy systems. For example, the cost of charging Chevrolet's autonomous electric compact vehicle, which can travel hundreds of kilometers, is less than the price of a can of Coca Cola. Golan says that the current internal combustion engine cars will disappear. According to him, the development centers in Israel are competing for projects against the auto manufacturers' overseas development centers, which have shorter and simpler logistics, and the state should therefore make the matter a priority.
Adi Ofek, CEO of Daimler's Israel development center said that some of the activities in the Israel development center involved digital and connected cars and ity was in the process of importing Mercedes test vehicles to Israel. She explained that there was a great demand for employees from the overseas concern to take part in development in Israel, and that the state should simplify the process of granting visas for specialist employees and development personnel in the auto industry. She also called on the Ministry of Transport and the customs authorities to ease the process of importing test vehicles and prototypes to Israel, which is currently prolonged and complicated, and to assign a high priority to the matter. She also said that among other things the company is developing advanced technologies for the interface between people and cars using speech and 'smart' systems that learn to identify drivers' and passengers' preferences and to adjust to them. This system was the focus of attention at the Mercedes presentation at the CES exhibition and it will feature in the next generation of Mercedes Class A cars.
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on January 28, 2018
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