Tesla’s full self-driving is the most well-known self-driving software in the market. However, apart from Tesla, Intel’s Mobileye and Waymo are two prominent competitors.
We have seen videos from Tesla FSD Beta and Mobileye. Seeing Mobileye’s progress, many people ask whether Mobileye is ahead of Tesla or not. In this article, we are going to explore the answer to this question.
Until 2016, Tesla used Mobileye in Teslas. However, due to data sharing disagreements, Tesla ditched Mobileye and started developing their self-driving software.
As a consumer, we should be happy that multiple companies are working very hard to solve autonomy: the more competition, the better products for consumers.
We know that every Tesla has eight cameras, FSD computers, internet connection, and more. The car records all types of data and sends it to Tesla.
Tesla’s autonomy solution is based on vision. Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s primary logic is that humans can drive with two eyes and brains. We don’t need to be clever or super smart to operate a motor vehicle. As long as we are sober, we can drive a car. Anyone who knows the rules can drive on any road.
Moreover, according to Tesla, they can achieve autonomy using vision. They only need to improve the software. Elon wants to make a generalized autonomy software that can drive a car on any road.
Elon does not like the use of LiDAR for cars. According to him, it’s a stupid idea to use LiDAR for autonomous vehicles. It’s not like he does not know what he is talking about. At SpaceX, Elon spearheaded the LiDAR projects. SpaceX now builds and uses its LiDAR for the crew dragons.
Tesla also doesn’t want to use precision 3D maps, also known as HD maps. Mapping the entire US roads in 3D is quite impossible. My people think that Google did it with its google maps, so they can do it again to create the HD maps. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it seems.
Google did not create the maps alone. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers worked on the Google maps project. Moreover, these maps don’t need to be accurate on centimeters level.
The creation of google street view is entirely different from the HD maps. Street view is nothing but 360-degree photos at specific intervals. On the other hand, HD maps are 360 degrees 3D views of the world. It also needs to be accurate on centimeters level for it to be useful for autonomous vehicles. It’s a labor and capital intensive process.
Therefore Tesla’s approach is to create software that can drive on any road conditions without the help of any types of maps.
Mobileye also relies on camera vision. But they have slightly different engineering and business approaches.
Google’s self-driving company Waymo wants to create a self-driving taxi service. They have been developing their software hardware and software since 2009. Unfortunately, due to their reliance on HD maps and expensive hardware, they could not expand beyond a few US cities.
Waymo has a lot of money from different investors. That’s why they can keep pushing their projects.
However, Mobileye took a different approach. Mobileye was not an Intel company until a few years back. So, when they started, they had to make a product that is cheap but scalable. That’s why they began developing the advanced driver assistance system using computer vision technology. In this aspect, Mobileye and Tesla’s approach are the same.
Though Tesla is open to licensing its autonomous software to others, we highly doubt that other companies would take this offer. We know this because Tesla has invited other EV manufacturers to use their superchargers, but no one took the offer. Any other EV manufacturers that use Tesla superchargers will become direct Tesla competitors.
Mobileye does not make cars. They only provide hardware and software. Therefore, it’s more likely that other automakers will use Mobileye than Tesla’s full self-driving software solutions.
Currently, many automakers, including Ford, BMW, Mercedes Benz, and others, use Mobileye ADAS. As a result, Intel’s Mobileye not only has a revenue-generating business but is also collecting data. To solve autonomy, Data is crucial. Similar to Tesla, Mobileye is actively gathering data.
There are few areas where MobilEye is different.
Mobileye uses HD maps. However, unlike Waymo, it’s crowd generated HD maps. They have built software that creates HD maps based on user data. The concept is similar to Waze. There’s no human intervention.
Mobileye emphasizes that without HD maps, solving autonomy is impossible. That’s why they are creating HD maps but with crowd sourced data. In this aspect, they are ahead of Waymo.
We don’t know about the future. Autonomy is an unproven technology. No one knows what the best approach to solving self-driving is. As a consumer, we should wait, cheer for progress.
The comparison between Mobileye and Tesla is similar to Google’s Android vs. Apple’s iPhone. Google makes the Android OS, but other companies use the OS in their smartphone. On the other hand, Apple makes both the iOS and iPhone. Similarly, MobilEye makes the hardware and software. Other OEMs use it in their car. On the contrary, Tesla develops their FSD and builds their vehicle.
There’s one other critical difference between Tesla and MobilEye.
MobilEye is also developing self-driving software using LiDAR. It’s a redundant system and independent of camera vision. Therefore, a vehicle manufacturer can choose camera-based autonomy or LiDAR-based autonomy, or both.
The self-driving community is divided. Some say that we can achieve autonomy with camera vision such as Tesla, OpenPilot. On the other hand, Waymo, Cruise believes that without LiDAR, achieving autonomy is impossible.
However, Mobileye is open to both approaches. That’s why they are developing self-driving with both methods independently. So, if we see that vision is not the way to solve autonomy in a few years, Mobileye is safe because they have LiDAR-based solutions. On the other hand, if LiDAR fails, they have vision-based autonomy. Therefore, we can confidently say that Mobileye will succeed. We just don’t know whether they will be the first or second.
There are millions of cars right now that use Mobileye solutions. So, they are way ahead of Waymo. However, we can’t merely say that Mobileye is ahead of Tesla or Tesla is ahead of Mobileye. It’s because none of them released autonomy software on a wide scale.