Israeli self-driving buses use Imagry platform

  • January 18, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

Two self-driving Israeli public transportation services will operate this year based on the autonomous driving (AD) platform developed by California-based Imagry.

Imagry, a developer of mapless autonomous driving technology, announced that its AI offering will be deployed shortly in two separate pilot programmes in Israel.

The first autonomous shuttle to use the Imagry platform will commence service at the largest medical centre in Israel this month, while the second will be deployed several months later in the city of Nahariya on a public bus line.

Both platforms will be managed by Nateev Express, a local public transportation operator.

These two pilot programmes represent a new phase in the roll-out of the Imagry platform, as they will allow the general public to experience autonomous driving first-hand.

Imagry software combines technology that captures and recognises a real-time video feed with a deep neural network to make complex driving decisions instantly, based on current driving conditions. As such, it is mapless, that is, not limited to pre-learned geographic areas. This is a benefit for transportation authorities and urban planners who want to employ the latest autonomous driving technology with minimal engineering requirements, reducing project costs and time to market.

For the past four years Imagry has been operating vehicles equipped with its autonomous driving software on public roads in the USA, Germany and Israel.

In both projects, Imagry relies on new and modern electric buses from Turkish bus maker Otokar, the performance and energy-efficient Nvidia Drive compute platform, automotive-grade cameras, and Imagry’s own mapless autonomous driving software.

Otokar exports its vehicles to more than 50 countries worldwide. With the e-Centro mid-size electric buses, not only does Otokar provide range and efficiency, the spacious and comfortable vehicles exhibit high passenger capacity for their class, having fixed and folding seats, and wheelchair space.

The Nvidia Drive platform, featuring the Drive Orin system-on-a-chip, processes data from the vehicle’s sensors to perceive the surrounding environment, then plans and executes a safe path forward. It delivers 254 trillion operations per second, enough computing horsepower required to run numerous simultaneous deep neural networks and algorithms for safe and robust autonomous driving.

“Launching the first autonomous buses in service zones and on public roads in Israel is a tremendous milestone for Imagry,” said Eran Ofir, CEO of Imagry. “It follows several years of test-driving experience, data collection and mastery of supervised learning on three continents. It signals that we are ready, willing and able to welcome other transportation operators that want to integrate self-driving buses into their fleet, efficiently and cost-effectively.”

Imagry was established in 2015. The company develops mapless driving software for levels three to four autonomous vehicles. Its bio-inspired technology collects and processes peripheral information from cameras installed on the vehicle. These data are sent to a computer in the vehicle whose purpose is to perform, in real time, the actions that will allow the vehicle to drive autonomously. This technology can enable the rapid deployment of autonomous vehicles on unknown roads for non-stop journeys. It uses low-cost sensors and eliminates the need for external digital mapping of roads and cities.