Ziv Aviram regularly drives part of the 42-mile (67 kilometer) stretch to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem with no hands. Gliding through traffic along Highway 1, the car slows and accelerates independently as Aviram focuses on his iPhone.
The on-board chips and software that allow the chief executive officer of Mobileye NV to check e-mail and read news while his Audi A7 cruises at highway speeds will reach consumers for the first time this year, he said, declining to identify the automaker. Three more manufacturers will introduce the features in the next two years, and nine others are preparing to follow, he said.
Aviram’s plans for bringing hands-free driving to market marks a contrast with the headline-grabbing effort by Google Inc., whose moonshot, bottom-up approach aims to transform the auto industry in one dramatic sweep.Google is taking a more revolutionary approach. Since 2009, its fleet of self-driving vehicles has roamed the streets of Mountain View, California.
Unlike Mobileye’s technologies, which interpret visual data much as a human would, Google’s cars navigate largely by relying on vast amounts of stored data about the streets, according to a presentation that Mobileye co-founder Amnon Shashua gave at the 2015 Deutsche Bank Global Auto Industry Conference.
Aviram said he doesn’t see Google’s more expensive prototype as a practical rival. Mobileye is already making money with systems that lay the stepping stones toward a driverless future. The company’s revenue -- derived mostly from driver-assistance technology -- is forecast to grow 53 percent this year to $220 million, according to the average estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Mobileye’s assisted-driving technology applies algorithms to video images taken from a single camera to detect nearby vehicles, pedestrians, traffic lights or lane departures. It warns drivers of potential hazards or applies autonomous braking, and has led to the development of chips and systems that will be used in fully autonomous vehicles.
At the same time automakers are racing to recast their business models and develop self-driving cars. Vehicles that move in harmony with one another may be essential to safely move people and goods efficiently through the world’s expanding megacities.
The market for autonomous driving technology will grow to $42 billion by 2025 and self-driving cars may account for a quarter of global auto sales by 2035, according to Boston Consulting Group.