Intel’s Mobileye, Nio partner on autonomous driving tech

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EyeQ5, Mobileye's fifth-generation autonomous driving chip, is expected to enter mas production in March 2021.
Mobileye expects to mass produce EyeQ5, its fifth-generation autonomous driving chip, in March 2021. (Image credit: Intel)

Intel’s self-driving unit Mobileye is joining forces with Nio to develop autonomous electric vehicles (EV) technology, drawn by the size of China’s self-driving and ride-hailing markets, and supportive government policies.

Why it matters: The partnership is expected to help offset the burdens of sheer cost and technological innovation required for developing self-driving cars. The announcement follows a string of setbacks for the EV maker in recent months.

  • Nio’s shares more than doubled to $2.34 by market close Tuesday after bottoming out at $1.19 in early October. The company had posted RMB 3.3 billion ($478.6 million) in net losses amid declining revenue in the second quarter of this year.

Details: Mobileye and Nio on Tuesday revealed plans to jointly develop and mass-produce highly automated vehicles, which will first debut to Chinese consumers and later in other countries.

  • Mobileye will supply a self-driving system, including its latest EyeQ computer-vision processors and the proprietary algorithms running on the chip, alongside a development kit with cameras, cables, and mapping solutions.
  • Nio will integrate the technology into its electric vehicle lines to achieve Level 4 autonomy, referring to a vehicle’s ability to pilot itself without a human driver under certain conditions, according to definitions set by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).
  • The two companies plan to initially release a model in China in 2022, said Mobileye CEO Ammon Shashua in an interview on Monday.
  • The Israeli company also revealed plans to pilot a robotaxi service featuring customized Nio vehicles in its home country, citing the advantage of its more efficient policymaking processes, though no details were given.
  • Nio and Intel declined to comment on the financial details of the partnership when contacted by TechNode on Wednesday.

“We are thrilled by the promise and potential of collaborating with NIO on electric autonomous vehicles, for both consumers and robotaxi fleets. We value the opportunity to bring greater road safety to China and other markets through our efforts, and look forward to NIO’s support as Mobileye builds a transformational mobility service across the globe.”

–Amnon Shashua, president and CEO of Mobileye

Context: Commanding more than 70% market share of the driver assistance technologies, Mobileye had formed a solid alliance with Tesla and jointly developed the initial version of Autopilot, the EV maker’s advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), which was released in 2014.

  • Relations between the two companies began deteriorating in mid-2017, when a Tesla driver was killed in a car crash in Florida in May with Autopilot engaged.
  • The Tier-2 supplier later announced it would terminate its relationship with Tesla. Shashua added that the EV maker was “pushing the envelope in terms of safety” in the Autopilot design and that it overstated self-driving capabilities.
  • Tesla countered, saying Mobileye attempted to prevent it from developing its own vision system for autonomous vehicles, which the company later denied.