New Legislation Opens Doors for Trial of Driverless Taxis in Israel

In recent news, the Knesset gave its approval for legislation, allowing corporations to take the wheel on autonomous shared transportation. This will include taxis, which have passengers traveling in the vehicle. However, there will be no safety driver on the roads of the State of Israel. The bill, which was presented by the personnel at the Ministry of Transportation and Road Safety, was passed in two consecutive meetings. The second and third readings of the plenum gave way to Mobileye, the autonomous driving subsidiary of Intel, to go ahead with its plans to launch robo-taxis in the city of Tel Aviv in this year. Moreover, the company is also hoping to start with its own ride-hailing services in the country. For the last couple of years, Yandex, a company based in Russia, has also been running tests on self-driving cars in the Jewish state. 

As of now, Ford, Hyundai, and Toyota are also investing in several models to introduce self-driving systems. The legislation passed by the Knesset grants permission to vehicle operators and companies to receive special licenses, signed by the Ministry of Transportation. In addition, it allows the relevant companies to carry out trials by using such autonomous cars, including those that have been designed to transport paying passengers. Other firms, which run independent driving systems to replace drivers, will also take part in these trials. The bill passed will further make way for regulation on various issues, such as different driving permits and insurance. It also establishes a couple of supervisory bodies, along with an advisory committee that consists of representatives nominated by relevant stakeholders.

According to the memorandum of the bill, the State of Israel is currently the leader in the development of advanced technologies, relevant to the field of self-driving cars. As of now, there are some companies, both foreign and Israeli, which are conducting trials with the help of autonomous vehicle transportation.  Mobileye, based in the city of Jerusalem, currently owns the largest fleet of autonomous vehicles on an international level. It has pilots from across the globe, such as Detroit, Munich, Tokyo, Paris, and New York City. Since the year 2018, the Intel company has been running tests on self-driving cars in Israel. Similar tests were started in Munich on such cars in 2020. 

Mobileye has been betting on commercializing its robotaxi services in Munich, Paris, as well as Tel Aviv, and focusing on the introduction of self-driving shuttles for the purpose of public transportation throughout Europe. It has also been venturing into delivery vehicles in America, as one of the first type of autonomous cars on the streets of the country. In Israel, the cars that are a part of the fleet of robo-taxis of Mobileye are orange in color. They are NIO SE8s, or rather electric SUVs with the capacity of seating seven people. These have been produced by an electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer from China, which entered into a signed collaboration agreement with Mobileye in the year 2019. 

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