Ford and Mobileye Partner on Autopilot-Like Technology

Ford Motor Company and the auto technology company Mobileye (owned by Intel) have expanded their long-standing relationship in July of 2020, aiming to improve the camera-based collision avoidance systems in the automaker’s next-generation vehicles. The Ford Mobileye agreement includes delivering a better autonomous driving experience in the new versions of the Ford F-150 and Mustang Mach-E.

What’s in the Expanded Ford Mobileye Agreement?

Mobileye, an Israel-based tech company founded in 1999, and acquired by the Intel Corporation in 2017, has worked on Ford projects in the past. However, this Ford Mobileye agreement is significant because it’s the first time Ford is committing to use Mobileye’s technology for the full lifecycle of its next-generation vehicles. Automotive vehicle lifecycles are typically four years or more. The Mobileye team, a Tier 2 automotive supplier that is the dominant force in its domain, will work along with designated Ford Tier 1 suppliers, which typically provide complex components, such as engines or transmissions. Together, they will provide the elements needed for vehicle integration in the F-150, Mustang Mach-E, and upcoming Ford products offering advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS).

Ford, America’s iconic automaker known for pioneering innovation, chose Mobileye to supply its vision-sensing technology to enhance the advanced driver-assistance systems in its vehicles. Mobileye developed the EyeQ® family of devices and vision-processing software, which differs from its competitors. Even when located on vehicle windshields, the EyeQ family of devices maintains low power consumption while it supports complex vision processing that requires intense computations. EyeQ technology identifies precisely what the driver’s windshield camera sees, such as other motor vehicles, cyclists, traffic signs, lane markings, and pedestrians. By improving its predecessors’ capabilities, including EyeQ3, EyeQ4 is able to process multiple sensors and other inputs the driver-assist features need for effective operation.

Under the new high-volume agreement, Mobileye will supply Ford vehicles with the devices and software to support Level 1 and Level 2 ADAS throughout the world (see What are SAE Autonomous Driving Levels?). In short, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) defines Level 0 as a fully human and manually controlled in every aspect, which is the traditional human-driven car. Level 1 systems are defined as automating a single aspect of the driving experience, such as steering or acceleration/deceleration. Level 2 systems support both steering and acceleration/braking. Drivers must supervise the vehicle’s performance under both levels. Level 5, the highest level, eliminates human driving completely. The vehicle does not have traditional driving controls, such as a steering wheel or brake pedal.

Starting with the new Mustang Mach-E and new F-150 truck, Ford will equip its new production vehicles with Mobileye’s suite of EyeQ computer hardware and software to support Ford Co-Pilot360™ Technology features. The EyeQ sensing technology suite includes several ADAS features, notably, Auto High-Beam headlamps, Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane-Keeping System, Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go and Lane-Centering. In addition, the tech system enables hands-free driving through Active Drive Assist. Mobileye’s EyeQ fourth-generation system incorporates cameras and sensors using Light Imaging Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and radar, improving its effectiveness.

In another first under the Ford Mobileye agreement, the automaker plans to make customers aware of the role Mobileye plays in providing some of the sensing capabilities of the Ford Co-Pilot360 Technology features. These features include detecting and alerting you when a vehicle is in your blind spot or when traffic is behind you as you back out of a driveway. Ford will promote Mobileye’s name in its vehicles by the inclusion of its logo in Ford’s SYNC® driver-assist communication displays.

Mobileye Brings Important Technology to Ford

While moving technology closer to the ultimate self-driving vehicle, safety enhancements resulting from the Ford Mobileye collaboration are expected to benefit motorists and the public soon. With improved camera-based detection capabilities for ADAS, drivers will experience better forward-collision warnings. This development prevents injuries to passengers and pedestrians and reduces property damage. Bicycle riders may stay safer due to heightened cyclist detection capabilities and lane-keeping features, which help drivers avoid swerving or turning into bike riders near them.

“It is a privilege to extend and expand our long-standing collaboration with a company that is so committed to safety on behalf of its global customer base,” said Mobileye’s President and CEO Professor Amnon Shashua. “We look forward to working closely together to bring these functionalities to market in the full Ford product lineup.”

In addition to enhancing safety, Ford believes improving the company’s technology through its Ford Co-Pilot360 features gives drivers more confidence on the road.

“Providing people with extra confidence while driving is invaluable, and it’s exactly what our available Ford Co-Pilot360 features are designed to do,” said Lisa Drake, chief operating officer, North America and vice president, Global Purchasing at Ford Motor Company. “By customizing Mobileye’s excellent software and sensing technology, Ford’s great driver-assist features will continue to evolve and provide customers with confidence on the road throughout the life of their vehicles.”

Competing Against Tesla’s Autopilot

Expanding the relationship between Ford and Mobileye at this time coincides with a decline in consumer spending, car sales, and mobility due to COVID-19. Ford saw a 33.3% drop in its second-quarter 2020 vehicle sales as a result of the pandemic. However, the Ford Mobileye collaboration fits with the Michigan-based automotive giant’s continuing effort to compete with Tesla in the realm of electric and other next-generation vehicle technology. Tesla equips all vehicles with a highly advanced Full Self-Driving Computer that powers it’s Autopilot system, one of the most sophisticated on the market (see Cars with Autopilot). Expected to roll out later this year, Ford’s Mustang Mach-E is the company’s first all-electric SUV and is set to go up against Tesla’s Model Y.

In addition to Ford, Mobileye has business relationships throughout the international automotive market. With customers including Volvo, Audi, and Volkswagen, Mobileye’s advanced driver-assistance system chips and software run in vehicles made by 13 of the top 15 automotive manufacturers. Tesla and Mobileye worked together for a time but Mobileye ended their relationship in 2016.

How Intel’s Mobileye Roadbook Improves ADAS

In addition to improving its driver-assist systems, Ford is exploring whether to incorporate Intel’s Mobileye Roadbook™ capabilities into its vehicles. Applying the principles of crowdsourcing, Roadbook captures anonymized feedback about road traffic and mapping information from vehicle cameras. After processing the data, the company develops and maintains high-definition maps that provide navigation information. Hands-free driving features, including Active Drive Assist technologies, use the information to handle changing road conditions more effectively and efficiently.

Ford is familiar with data crowdsourcing innovations. In June 2020, the automaker used crowdsourced data to develop a more accurate estimate range for its all-electric SUV, Mustang Mach-E with Intelligent Range. Gathering information including past driver behavior, forecasts of weather conditions, and the data from other EVs under similar road conditions, the vehicle predicts energy consumption for future driving. The vehicle battery system reports how much energy is available and estimates the amount of driving that can be done with the remaining battery power. Ford expects to incorporate the same technology in its all-electric F-150 EV, which should arrive within the next two years, according to the automaker.

Automotive and technology industry players continue racing toward the day when fully functioning self-driving technology becomes a reality. By announcing their innovative Ford Mobileye collaboration that is poised to boost Ford’s global product lineup, both companies are positioning themselves to be in the winner’s circle for autonomous vehicle production.

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