Israel gave up production after Susita, but is a world leader in automotive technology
Israel has never been a great car manufacturing nation. In the late 1960s it produced the Sussita with a fiberglass body and a Ford Anglia engine. It was affectionately known as “The Cube” because of its less than elegant lines. Government agencies were forced to buy Sussita, largely because no one else would.
Israel has gone from actually making cars – with one or two minor exceptions – to being a world leader in the technology that powers them and helps drivers.
In June 2013, Waze, the satellite navigation software company, was purchased by Google for $1.3 billion. In March 2017, Mobileye, the advanced driver assistance system, was purchased by Intel for $15.3 billion, the largest ever acquisition of an Israeli technology company.
Today, Israel has more than 400 automotive startups developing a range of technologies from collision avoidance to autonomous cars, from batteries for electric vehicles to artificial intelligence systems that check cars for faults. Here’s just a snapshot of some of the progress he’s making.
Overcoming the “forgotten baby syndrome”
Guardian OpTech has a device that fits into the ceiling of a car and is so sensitive that it can detect the beating of a human heart.
It identifies the occupants of the vehicle and checks that they are wearing their seat belts, but it can also save children left behind in hot cars.
In July, a three-year-old boy died after his parents left him in a car outside a South Florida daycare center, a victim of so-called forgotten baby syndrome. An average of 38 children under the age of 15 die each year from heat stroke after being left in a vehicle in the US.
Guardian OpTech can send a message to the driver… and turn on the car’s air conditioning.
The Tel Aviv-based startup uses a patented sensor that constantly scans, tracks and determines the physical location of every person and object in the car, even without direct line of sight.
The folding car
The City transformer is a folding car. The little two-seater is just 1.4 meters (4ft 7in) wide to begin with, but the wheels fold inwards so it’ll squeeze into the tightest of parking spaces. In ‘city mode’ it is only one meter wide (3ft 3in).
The CT-1 shape-shifting electric microcar is only 2.5 meters (8ft 2in) long, so four of them can park at right angles to the curb in the space occupied by a regular car.
At the push of a button, the driver can switch from city mode to performance mode and reach speeds of up to 90 km/h (56 mph), with a range of 120 km to 180 km (75 mi to 110 mi) in less from an hour of charging.
“We are excited about what the City Transformer is doing to revolutionize the way we move in cities,” said Dani Shavit, CEO of the Lubinski Group, one of Israel’s largest car importers, which has invested seriously in the project.
“The urban transport model is ripe for disruption and is in desperate need of fresh ideas to lead us into a new era of clean air and sustainable mobility.”
The City Transformer aims to start production in 2024, targeting the European market, followed by North America and Israel.
of Israel United HatzalaEMS, has signed up to purchase 1,000 CT-1s for its volunteer responders so they can weave through traffic and park with ease.
Robot taxis handle traffic in Jerusalem
Mobileye does much more than reprimand drivers for tailgating or drifting out of their lane. Currently testing it robotics on the roads of Jerusalem, which may be great news for passengers, but not so good for taxi drivers.
Once approved for commercial use, the fully automated vehicles will pick up up to seven people and deliver them safely to their destination, without a driver.
Mobileye says it combines two independent autonomous driving systems so that if one breaks down, the other will take over. One relies on 11 surround cameras providing a 360° view of the field, the other uses LiDAR (laser imaging, detection and ranging) and radar.
They serve as backups to each other, as Mobileye calls it A true excess sensory system.
“Redundancy is essential when designing safety-critical systems,” the company says. “The goal is to equip a system with multiple components or subsystems that perform the same function, so that if one fails, the overall system can perform its task safely.”
In an unedited 40 minutes video Mobileye shows its robotics performing “complex real-world driving maneuvers despite strong night-time road lighting and complex traffic signs,” including a passenger pulling into the street and a driver making an illegal U-turn.
Saving drivers from stress and fatigue
CU-BX uses artificial intelligence and advanced analytics to monitor the driver’s well-being and warn if there is a problem.
It has developed a patented nano-motion detection system that is so sensitive it can measure heart rate, breathing rate and heart rate variability and detect stress, fatigue or anything else that might impair the driver’s ability.
The technology works regardless of how many layers of clothing he or she is wearing, their body type, whether their face is hidden by sunglasses, a mask or other accessories, and the lighting or road conditions. It is designed to be easily integrated into personal cars as well as truck fleets.
“Measuring anything in a vehicle is incredibly difficult,” said Eran Hochstadter, the company’s vice president of business development. “Driving is one of the riskiest things the average person does on a daily basis.
“It’s unpredictable, which makes it difficult to accurately measure, track and improve. Our patented technology keeps roads safer. We monitor drivers’ stress, thermal comfort and key health conditions regardless of road conditions, clothing or driver physique.”
This extra eye sees everything
The Viper thermal camera developed by an Israeli startup AdaSky can “see” a pedestrian even if the driver cannot. Even in heavy rain, blinding sunlight, thick fog or an unlit road in the dark, it can alert the driver of a person or animal by using far-infrared light waves (FIR) to measure the heat emitted.
It can detect objects more than 200 meters (220 yards) away and can be integrated into automatic emergency braking systems to avoid a collision.
Yakov Shaharabani, the company’s CEO, believes the thermal camera, which costs about $100, could be the “next airbag” in terms of road safety.
William Grabowski, head of AdaSky North America, said: “Unlike radar, LiDAR or daytime running camera technology, no ambient light or active signal is required for thermal cameras to detect and classify vulnerable road users in any operating condition.
“AdaSky uses AI technology to monitor the cameras while the driver is looking at the road and alerts when something that could be dangerous is spotted. Another difference with pedestrian detection systems is that they are limited to the area covered by the car’s headlights, whereas thermal cameras can see much further.”