Intel’s Mobileye IPO joins the crowded race to develop self-driving cars

Posted: 10 December 2021 6:29 pm
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Major names, including Tesla and Google and a number of small companies, are seeking a piece of this rapidly-growing market. Here are some investors should know.

Intel-owned Mobileye plans to go public next year with an initial public offering (IPO) in its latest move to lead the development of autonomous vehicles (AVs) — a race that includes some of the world’s biggest companies.

The Israel-based self-driving car business was acquired by Intel in 2017 for $15.3 billion in a move to position Intel as a leading technology provider in the fast-growing self-driving car market. The competition is fierce.

What is Mobileye?

Mobileye is an Israel-based company that offers autonomous mobility solutions for self-driving cars and advanced driver-assistance systems.

The company was founded in 1999 by Professor Amnon Shashua when he evolved his academic research into a monocular vision system to detect vehicles using a single camera and software algorithms.

Mobileye has seen rapid growth in the last several years.

Mobileye tech used in vehicles of major automakers

For starters, the company recently shipped its 100 millionth EyeQ system-on-chip (SoC). Mobileye’s EyeQ SoCs provide the processing power to stream and process the cameras, radars and LiDARs used for sensing and mapping. Think of them as the eyes of semi and fully automated vehicles.

Mobileye’s technology is installed in more than 40 million cars produced by the world’s major automakers, including BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, Nissan, Honda and General Motors (GM). The company had also previously provided its computer chips and algorithms to Tesla for Tesla’s Autopilot system, but Mobileye announced in 2016 it would be ending the contract after disagreements about how the technology was deployed.

It’s expanding its footprint

In March, Mobileye announced its partnership with Transdev and Lohr Group to develop and deploy autonomous shuttles worldwide. The shuttles will first launch in France and Israel in 2022 for testing.

Mobileye also began testing its AVs across multiple cities around the world. The company announced in January that it was expanding its AV test fleets in New York City, Detroit, Tokyo, Shanghai and Paris.

In April, Mobile announced that it closed a deal with Udelv, a California-based self-driving delivery company, to launch a fleet of “Transporters” in 2023. Udelv’s Transporters are used for last- and middle-mile delivery services. More than 35,000 Mobileye-driven Transporters will be produced between 2023 and 2028.

In September, Mobileye announced it would be launching a driverless ride-hailing service in Tel Aviv, Israel, and Munch, Germany. The company unveiled its production robotaxi that will be used to shuttle passengers throughout the cities.

The AVs will operate under the MoovitAV branding. Intel acquired the Israel-based mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) solutions company Moovit last year.

A burgeoning global market is at stake

The global autonomous car market was valued at $21 billion in 2020 and is expected to exceed $61 billion in just five years, according to one estimate.

Accordingly, major automaker companies have been upping their investments to compete for a leadership position.

For instance, GM announced in June it will increase its spending on electric and AVs to $35 billion through 2025. Ford is bumping its investment in these areas up to $29 billion through 2025.

Other key players in the self-driving market

The market for self-driving cars and the tech inside them also includes many major tech companies and a lot of smaller players, with many of their efforts interconnected. Some key names you should know as an investor include:

Waymo

Waymo is an autonomous driving technology company, and it’s a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet. Waymo was formerly Google’s self-driving car project.

The company is often hailed as the leader in autonomous driving. It began testing self-driving vehicles in 2009 and has since logged more than 20 million miles on real-world roads. Waymo has partnerships that include Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo, Fiat Chrysler and Lyft.

Waymo One, the company’s fully autonomous ride-hailing service, operates in Metro Phoenix and began a tester program in San Francisco this year. As of September 2021, Waymo and GM are the only two self-driving car companies that have attained a permit for fully driverless testing on public roads in California.

Tesla

Tesla was founded in 2003 and has since become the global leader in the electric car race. From January 2021 to June 2021, Tesla accounted for 66.3% of all new electric vehicles registered in the US, according to Experian data published this past October.

Tesla started equipping its Model S vehicles with hardware that can automate some steering, braking and acceleration functions back in October 2014. A year later, the company released an update that allowed Autopilot as a feature for Model S drivers.

Since October 2016, Tesla has equipped all its cars with its self-driving hardware, which includes 360-degree visibility, ultrasonic sensors to detect objects and a forward-facing radar capable of seeing through rain, fog, dust and the car ahead.

In 2018, Tesla announced that Tesla owners had driven more than 1 billion miles with Autopilot engaged.

Despite having the largest market share of electric vehicles, a series of emails between Tesla and the California DMV shows that Tesla is still years away from reaching full autonomy.

Apple

Apple has been tight-lipped about its self-driving car project, known internally as Project Titan. Though the company hasn’t really commented on it, we know something is in the works.

In 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple had several hundred employees working on the project. A few months later, Apple CEO Tim Cook met with BMW in Germany to visit its i3 production line.

In 2017, Apple got a permit to begin testing its autonomous driving technology on California roads.

In November 2021, Bloomberg released a report detailing Apple’s accelerating efforts to launch a self-driving vehicle. According to the report, Apple plans to launch the vehicle in 2025.

General Motors

In 2016, GM reportedly spent more than $1 billion to buy Cruise Automation in an effort to jump-start its self-driving efforts. Cruise Automation is a self-driving car company founded in 2013.

During GM’s investor event in early October, a slide titled “Exponential Cruise Fleet Ramp” showed that the company may be targeting a fleet of at least 1 million self-driving vehicles by 2030.

Yesterday, GM reportedly revealed that it was very close to deploying its fully autonomous tax service. The company plans to start running the service in San Francisco sometime in 2022.

As mentioned earlier, GM received a permit in September to conduct fully driverless testing on public roads in California.

Baidu

China-based search engine giant, Baidu, is among the leading Chinese companies in the AV space and has spent years working on self-driving technology.

In 2017, Baidu announced that “Apollo” was the name of its self-driving project. The software platform would allow hardware providers to develop and deploy their own autonomous driving system. Months later, the company announced that more than 50 companies, including Ford, Nvidia and Intel, have joined its Apollo self-driving car platform.

In December 2020, Baidu was approved to conduct full driverless road tests in Beijing, China.

In April 2021, Baidu announced that it would soon launch a driverless robotaxi service in Beijing.

Baidu has also recently partnered with Chinese state-owned automaker BAIC Group to build 1,000 driverless cars over the next three years.

Zoox

Zoox is an autonomous vehicle company founded in 2014. The company targets the robotaxi market, designing and creating autonomous ride-hailing vehicles from the ground up, and aims to provide mobility-as-a-service in city environments.

In June 2020, Amazon announced that it had struck a deal to acquire Zoox. The deal was for a reported $1.2 billion.

Zoox recently said that it’s ready to start testing autonomous cars in Seattle. The company is deploying a fleet of Toyota Highlander vehicles retrofitted with its sensor technology and self-driving software. This will give the company an idea of how its sensors hold up in inclement weather before bringing its robotaxis into service.

The value of any investment can go up or down depending on news, trends and market conditions. We are not investment advisers, so do your own due diligence to understand the risks before you invest.

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