The incident, an embarrassment to the dominant manufacturer of driver assistance systems, shows how fraught the race to fully autonomous cars will be
Last week, Mobileye, the Intel-owned manufacturer of driver-assistance systems, announced it would compete in the race to create a fully driverless car, unveiling a fleet of prototype vehicles in Jerusalem that navigate city streets without the use of lasers or radars, which rivals have relied on heavily in tests.
A Bloomberg Businessweek reporter had an early look at the cars last month, during which a camera-only vehicle performed well despite heavy, chaotic Jerusalem traffic. But at a press event in Mobileye’s hometown last week, a car outfitted with television cameras from Israel’s Channel 10, went straight through a red light about a quarter of mile from the company’s garage after an otherwise uneventful ride.
Nobody was hurt, and Channel 10’s video seems to show a Mobileye safety driver monitoring the vehicle, but allowing the car to proceed without trying to stop it. Mobileye’s Chief Executive Officer Amnon Shashua said wireless transmitters on cameras used by the television crew created electromagnetic interference, which disrupted signals from a transponder on the traffic light. Although the car’s camera correctly identified the light as red, the car ignored that information and drove based on signals from the transponder, a mistake that has since been corrected, he said in an interview.
“It was a very unique situation,” he said, referring to the camera crew. “We’d never anticipated something like this.” Shashua said Mobileye was also modifying the hardware designed to shield the car’s computers from electromagnetic interference in order to prevent similar incidents in the future. Mobileye’s Jerusalem fleet has continued to operate and the company hasn’t received any complaints from automakers, Shashua said.
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