"I'm confident that in less than a year, you'll be able to go
from highway on-ramp to highway exit without touching any
CEO Elon Musk said at the company's 2014 annual shareholder
meeting about one month ago. Having been a founder at PayPal and
Space X, and having helped conceive the idea and serving as a
, people who follow Elon Musk have learned to take his claims
about the future seriously.
While we've yet to see the technology Musk its talking about,
investors could possibly get an opportunity to invest in it this
Friday. Mobileye, an Israeli company whose website describes
itself as a provider of advanced safety systems for automakers,
could be the technology behind the enhanced machine-autopilot
system Tesla is working on.
One example of the machine vision-enabled safety features that
Mobileye makes possible.
Speculation, speculation, speculation
It's very important to drive home the point here that there is no
certainty that Mobileye is the company that will take Tesla's
vehicles one step closer to being autonomous. But the storyline
for a Mobileye-Tesla partnership is undoubtedly convincing.
we know? Mobileye is working with Tesla.
"We can simply confirm that we have a business relationship
with them," Tesla vice president of communications Simon Sproule
The Mercury News
. Sproule would not characterize any further details of the
Mobileye machine vision technology. Image source:
While Mobileye's site only suggests that the company has minor
safety features that use machine vision to help prevent
accidents, the company's technology has the ability to go much
further, according to Israeli newspaper
The Jerusalem-based vehicle safety systems manufacturer
Mobileye has entered the automatic car development market with
the goal of developing a driverless car. TheMarker has learned
that Mobileye is collaborating with American electric car
manufacturer Tesla and is studying systems it is developing in
Further, the fact that Musk has expressed interest in machine
vision in favor of
's radar approach also adds to the storyline that Mobileye is
likely helping Tesla with its self-driving technology.
"The problem with Google's current approach is that the sensor
system is too expensive," Musk told Bloomberg in an interview in
2013. "It's better to have an optical system, basically cameras
with software that is able to figure out what's going on just by
looking at things."
Indeed, the description of what makes Mobileye's technology
special on its website seems to fit the bill of what Musk has
been looking for.
Mobileye's key breakthrough was the realization that all the
desired functions could run from the input of the mono-camera,
pioneering a new path in machine vision technology. At the
time, all other automotive suppliers were focused on stereo
vision or alternative technologies such as radar. This
realization was a revolutionary leap in the market in 1999.
Today Mobileye continues to lead the field of mono vision for
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).
Will the Model X be equipped with Mobileye technology?
Possibly. Ever since Musk said on-ramp to off-ramp self-driving
would be possible in less than a year at the 2014 annual
shareholder meeting, there's been speculation that Musk was
referring to the X. The timing of a early 2015 launch seems to
fit right in to the timing of Musk's forecast for this sort of
Indeed, the Model X exhibited on Tesla's website already shows
cameras in the place of side mirrors.
Model X. The company's prototype model shows cameras in the
place of side mirrors. Image source: Tesla Motors.
Obviously having these cameras on the side could also be a
part of a push to get one step closer to self-driving. But it's
worth noting that Tesla will need regulations regarding side
mirrors overturned first, to allow cameras to be used instead.
But Tesla is lobbying to get this exact move approved, according
Tesla and the 12-member Alliance of Automobile
Manufacturers, which represents such companies as General
Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen, filed a petition today with the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration seeking
permission to take that leap.
But is there really anything special about highway on-ramp to
highway exit self-driving? After all, many new luxury cars
already have built-in active cruise control and lane sensing
I'd argue that Musk's comment about highway self-driving
includes some bigger ambitions than current technologies can
provide. Think automatic lane changes when needed (something that
would even require advanced side machine vision), complete
freeway navigation when given a GPS destination, and other
Reviewing Musk's preference for machine vision, his comments
predicting on-ramp to off-ramp autonomous driving, and a
confession from Tesla that it does have a business relationship
with Mobileye, it does seem likely that Mobileye is working with
Tesla on a new level of autonomous driving.
The company will go public on the New York Stock Exchange at a
price around $17-$19. Mobileye's revenue doubled last year,
hitting $81.2 million, up from $53 million in 2012.
Unfortunately, this hot stock will come at a pricey valuation.
Based on the filing details, it will go live on the NYSE with a
valuation around $3.8 billion.That's a price-to-sales ratio of
47.5. Of course this ratio may decline rapidly if Tesla really is
working close with the company. Further, other manufacturers
could be in on Mobileye's pipeline technology, too.
More from The Motley Fool:
Warren Buffett Tells You How to Turn $40
into $10 Million
IPO Alert: The Company Behind Tesla Motors,
Inc.'s Self-Driving Efforts?
originally appeared on Fool.com.
owns shares of Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool recommends Google (A
shares), Google (C shares), SolarCity, and Tesla Motors. The
Motley Fool owns shares of Google (A shares), Google (C shares),
SolarCity, and Tesla Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter
free for 30 days
. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe
considering a diverse range of insights
makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a
Copyright © 1995 - 2014 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights
reserved. The Motley Fool has a