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Mobileye CEO Outlines Israel’s Robotaxi Future

Intel’s Mobileye and Volkswagen AG plan to have hundreds of autonomous taxis on Tel Aviv’s streets by 2022, according to Mobileye co-founder and CEO Amnon Shashua.

  • These robotaxis will be level-4 autonomous cars, meaning driverless cars that operate only under good weather conditions, Shashua said in an interview with Calcalist held earlier this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where the company took center stage.

Initially, Mobileye had a different project in mind, one involving public transportation in Los Angeles, but Shahsua felt that with the Israeli project the Jerusalem-based company has a chance of keeping development in the country. First deployment of a new technology necessarily requires local research and development infrastructure, he explained, and by launching the service in Israel first, Mobileye can keep the technology in-country, where most of the company’s operations are located.

According to Shashua, the project will turn Israel into a smart mobility hub that would draw multinationals. He sees the arrival of Russian multinational Yandex’s taxi-hailing service Yango as the harbinger.

The company is now building a new campus in Jerusalem, intended to house 2,500 employees. They also plan to construct offices for several hundred employees in central Israeli city Petah Tikva.

According to estimates by the Israeli government, the country’s technology sector needs around 10,000 more engineers. High demand is driving salaries up.