IMC Newsdesk

Mobileye and Willer partner on robotaxi service

  • July 21, 2020
  • Steve Rogerson
Mobileye employees work in the company’s autonomous vehicle workshop in Jerusalem in December 2018. Mobileye, an Intel company, is the leader in assisted driving and a pioneer in the use of computer vision technology to save lives on the road. The company, based in Jerusalem, became part of Intel in 2017. (Credit: Mobileye)

Intel subsidiary Mobileye and Willer, one of the largest transportation operators in Japan and Taiwan, are collaborating on an autonomous robotaxi service in markets across south-east Asia.
Beginning in Japan, the companies will collaborate on the testing and deployment of autonomous transportation based on Mobileye’s automated vehicle technology.
“Our new collaboration with Willer brings a meaningful addition to Mobileye’s growing global network of transit and mobility ecosystem partners,” said Amnon Shashua, CEO of Israel-based Mobileye. “We look forward to collaborating with Willer as we work together for new mobility in the region by bringing self-driving mobility services to Japan, Taiwan and Asean markets.”
Together, Mobileye and Willer are seeking to commercialise self-driving taxis and autonomous on-demand shared shuttles in Japan, while leveraging each other’s strengths. Mobileye will supply autonomous vehicles integrating its self-driving system and Willer will offer services adjusted to each region and user tastes, ensure regulatory framework, and provide mobility services for fleet operation companies.
“Collaboration with Mobileye is highly valuable for Willer and a big step moving forward to realise our vision of innovating transportation services: travel anytime and anywhere by anybody,” said Shigetaka Murase, founder and CEO of Willer. “Innovation of transportation will lead to a smarter, safer and more sustainable society where people enjoy higher quality of life.”
The two companies aim to begin testing robotaxis on public roads in Japan in 2021, with plans to launch fully self-driving ride-hailing and ride-sharing mobility services in 2023, while exploring opportunities for similar services in Taiwan and other south-east Asian markets.
For Mobileye, the collaboration with Willer advances the company’s global mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) ambitions. Since announcing its intention to become a complete mobility provider, Mobileye has begun a series of collaborations with cities, transportation agencies and mobility technology companies to develop and deploy self-driving mobility in key markets.
The agreement with Willer builds on Mobileye’s existing MaaS partnerships. Examples include the agreement with Daegu Metropolitan City, South Korea, to deploy robotaxis based on Mobileye’s self-driving system, and the joint venture with Volkswagen and Champion Motors to operate an autonomous ride-hailing fleet in Israel.
Willer aims to unify user experiences across countries in the region; it released a MaaS app in 2019 and enabled a QR-code-based payment system this year. It has partnered with Kuo-Kuang Motor Transportation, the largest bus operator in Taiwan, and Mai Linh, the largest taxi company in Vietnam, as well as invested in Car Club, a car-sharing service provider in Singapore. Willer also partners with 150 local transportation providers in Japan.
The collaboration between Willer and Mobileye will add a transportation mode to the existing range of transportation services, including highway buses, railways and car-sharing. Adding self-driving vehicles, on-demand features and sharing services should improve customer ride experiences and address social challenges such as traffic accidents, congestion and the shortage of drivers, as well as the difficulties resulting from Japan’s aging society.
Mobileye’s proprietary software algorithms and EyeQ chips perform detailed interpretations of the visual field to anticipate possible collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, animals, debris and obstacles. The products can also detect roadway markings such as lanes, road boundaries, barriers and similar items; identify and read traffic signs, directional signs and traffic lights; create a RoadBook of local drivable paths and visual landmarks using REM; and provide mapping for autonomous driving.
Willer was established in 1994 to provide society- and community-centric transportation services. It has the largest intercity bus networks and operates a railway in Kyoto and restaurant buses that provide local cuisine area by area. Besides Japan, Willer operates car-sharing services in Singapore and ride-hailing taxis in Vietnam.