The Times of Israel reported yesterday that last week’s initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange of Mobileye, an Israeli startup that makes automobile accident avoidance systems, raised $890 million, a record for an Israeli company in the United States. The previous record is held by Partner Communications Ltd., which raised $525 million in 1999.
The money will give MobilEye the opportunity to develop the next generation of its system — turning drivers into passengers, using “driverless technology.” MobilEye uses a monocular camera that magnifies images, together with sophisticated software that calibrates how much time a drive needs to brake in order to avoid colliding with the vehicle ahead. If the driver gets too close, an alarm goes off, and in some vehicles, the software is connected to the braking system — so that if the driver fails to brake in time, the system does it for him.
The MobilEye Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) also alerts drivers when they come too close to pedestrians and when they veer out of their lane. New versions of the system can also detect cyclists, debris on the road, curbs, barriers and constructions zones, and can also detect traffic lights and even read signs. The advanced version of the system will be enabled by a number of forward-facing cameras, with several low-cost radars for redundancy. All that, the company says, will make fully driverless cars feasible within the next two or three years, long before Google will be ready to sell its version of hands-free vehicles.
Currently Mobileye has deals with eighteen companies and hopes to extend its customer base. The Times reports that “[b]y the end of 2016, the company says, its advanced system will be available in 237 car models from 20 [original equipment manufacturers],” including Ford, General Motors, Chrysler and BMW.
Mobileye was founded in 1999 by Ziv Aviram and Hebrew University professor Amnon Shashua, who developed the technology.
On the heels of last year’s high profile acquisitions of Waze and Onavo, this year has already seen a successful IPO of the Israeli biotech firm Macrocure. At the end of 2013, The Wall Street Journal predicted that Mobileye could be one of many successful Israeli IPOs this year.
Last year, when President Barack Obama visited Israel, Mobileye was one of the tech companies selected to show the president its breakthrough technology. A video of the demonstration is embedded below.
[Photo: Mobileye / YouTube ]