Mobileye: Driving In Jerusalem

Mobileye, which now belongs to Intel, recently published a video of a 40-minute autonomous drive through urban Jerusalem. Mobileye is based in Jerusalem, and its streets may be among the most challenging that self-driving cars currently handle.

The recording clocks in at about 26 minutes, shorter than the actual drive, because parts of the drive are played back at 2x speed. I annotated the video with my thoughts.

[1:05] Mobileye’s sensing display is pretty sparse, but does a nice job focusing on the important items.

[1:05] I am a little surprised that Mobileye’s in-cabin display set-up is clearly aftermarket. I guess that shouldn’t surprise me, but it’s a reminder that Mobileye is a supplier, not an OEM.

[1:50] Merges from a standing start are tough. Nice work.

[3:10] Overtaking the parked truck is very safe and delibrate, but I could imagine eventually that will need to happen faster.

[4:25] The pedestrian is detected well before the crosswalk. Awesome.

[5:15] “We use environmental cues to determine that these cars are parked, and not just stuck in traffic.” I wonder what those cues are? The map?

[6:20] This drive is camera-only, but Mobileye says they are building an entirely separate, redundant sensing stack that is radar plus lidar. They want to achieve full self-driving with each subsystem independently. They call this “true redundancy.” Interesting choice to build two separate stacks, divided by modality, as opposed to equip the vehicle with two independent sensor suites with all modalities.

[8:15] Mobileye’s Road Experience Management technology pulls anonymized sensor data from BMW, VW, Nissan, and SAIC vehicles. Mobileye fuses this data into is mapping system, to keep its maps up to date around the world. This is part of the dream of ADAS — that you can get much more data from a production fleet of human drivers than a fleet of test vehicles. “We are basically leveraging Mobileye’s strong ADAS position to build and maintain a near-real-time HD map.” I wonder exactly what data they are pulling, and whether the manufacturers will agree to this in the long-run.

[10:17] This route includes some very narrow Jerusalem streets. This one, at least, is totally straight. I’m not sure this “proves” AVs can operate in places like India, but this is certainly a more challenging environment than, say, Phoenix.

[11:10] The unprotected left turn felt a little tense, but basically okay.

[12:20] Nice job detecting a pedestrian dragging a forklift. This scenario is reminiscent of the situation that led to Uber ATG’s fatal collision with Elaine Herzberg in Arizona. Mobileye seems to have no problem with this here.

[13:15] Really interesting and successful “negotiation” to merge around a stopped vehicle.

[15:00] The human driver takes over to pull over in a bus stop zone, so that the drone operator (riding shotgun) can land the drone and change the battery. I am surprised the human driver had to take over here. Compared to a lot of autonomous maneuvers in this video, “pull over,” seems pretty basic (and necessary).

[15:00] This stop highlights that the human driver does not seem to provide any input to the AV during the whole drive. The route appears pre-programmed from start to finish. I wonder how strong Mobileye’s in-vehicle UX is.

[15:30] This shot reminds me how impressive drone operators are. You take it for granted, but this drone operator is sitting in the passenger seat of a moving vehicle. He’s keeping a drone, which he can’t see, in place directly above the car, at hundreds of feet off the ground, for forty minutes!

[17:15] Roundabouts are tough for Americans. I’d pay a self-driving car to handle roundabouts for me.

[17:55] Even self-driving cars want to change to the next lane if it looks faster!

[19:05] Super-narrow street with lots of cars. I’d be nervous driving here. Impressive, especially for a camera-only system! Localization typically relies on lidar. Mobileye can clearly localize effectively with just cameras.

[19:35] A driver exits a parked car to wave the AV around. The AV doesn’t seem to “understand” the wave, but once the driver gets out of the way, it figures out to pass the parked car.

[21:27] That was a challenging unprotected left turn. I’m impressed again.

[22:45] Interesting that the AV does not yield to the moped (I think it’s a moped) in the crosswalk. The system seems to recognize the vehicle as a moped, but the moped is trying to use the crosswalk like a pedestrian. Tricky situation.

[24:20] The sensing UI seems to recognize a leading car quite far ahead — so far ahead that it doesn’t appear in the drone shot. I wonder what the system’s range is.

[25:25] Once again, the safety driver takes control to pull over and end the ride. I’m puzzled why that wasn’t pre-programmed, like the rest of the ride.

Overall, this was a lot of fun to watch and a really impressive performance by Mobileye. Jerusalem seems like a tough place to drive!

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