The New Mobility robotaxi service will not be operating as a commercial business at scale in Israel next year. Sure, some coverage has interpreted it as such. But it’s not. Here’s what is happening.
The New Mobility in Israel group’s proposal was formally accepted by the Israeli government during a private ceremony at the Smart Mobility Summit 2018 in Tel Aviv last Monday. The group will begin testing next year in Tel Aviv and roll out the service in phases until reaching full commercialization in 2022. (Intel and Mobileye began testing self-driving cars in Jerusalem in May 2018.)
VW and Mobileye didn’t — and wouldn’t, when pressed — disclose which city they plan to test in. However, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted during remarks at the Smart Mobility Summit gala dinner that the group would be testing in Tel Aviv.
The project will begin with dozens of self-driving vehicles — each one with safety drivers behind the wheel. An early rider program, which would give vetted members of the public access to the service, will likely launch in 2021, one unnamed source familiar with the deal told TechCrunch.
Each of the three companies in the joint venture are providing a piece of this self-driving vehicle business puzzle. Champion Motors will run the fleet operations and control center. VW is going to supply the electric vehicles. And Mobileye is handling the self-driving system. All three companies will add the mobility platform and services to be able to deploy a commercial service.
The Israeli government is also contributing, with plans to provide legal and regulatory support, share the required infrastructure and traffic data, and provide access to infrastructure as needed.
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