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Mobileye to launch robotaxis in Germany next year -CEO

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By Hyunjoo Jin 

  SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 7 (Reuters) - The chief executive of Intel Corp's self-driving vehicle technology unit Mobileye said it plans an initial deployment of 50 autonomous taxis in Munich, Germany next year, and added that rival Tesla Inc's driver assistant system is not "safe enough." 

  Mobileye said it hopes to remove safety drivers from the robotaxis by the end of next year and scale up the technology across Germany and other European countries later this decade upon regulatory approval. 

  Mobileye on Tuesday unveiled vehicles equipped with its self-driving system that will be used for commercial, driverless ride-hailing services that it plans to provide with German mobility service provider SIXT. 

  Self-driving tech firms like Waymo have yet to successfully deploy autonomous vehicles beyond limited areas, hampered by cost and technical and regulatory challenges. 

  Mobileye, a former supplier of Tesla, develops a camera-centric self-driving system similar to Tesla's, but plans to add sensors for robotaxies, CEO Amnon Shashua said. Sensors like lidars, which use lasers similar to how radar sensors use radio waves, cost more but enhance safety of self-driving vehicles, he said. 

  "Even though we can power a full self driving vehicle with only cameras, we feel that at this point in time, it's not safe enough," he said at an embargoed press briefing ahead of the IAA Mobility event in Munich. 

  He said additional sensors would provide robustness to its self-driving system to prove that it is much better than human drivers when it comes to reducing accidents. 

  U.S. regulators have been probing the safety of what Tesla calls "Full Self-driving" capability, which helps drivers stay in lanes and steer on highways, following a series of accidents including a fatal crash in Texas. 

  Mobileye broke ties with the electric car maker following a fatal accident in Florida in 2016. (Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by David Gregorio)