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Intel revs up its autonomous driving efforts with the acquisition of Mobileye

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Intel is making a $15.3 billion investment in Mobileye to accelerate its efforts in the autonomous driving industry.

Intel is revving up its efforts in the autonomous driving industry with the acquisition of Mobileye for $15.3 billion. Mobileye is best known for its collision avoidance technology in self-driving vehicles that includes an artificial vision sensor and a backend capable of accurately detecting pedestrians, speed limit signs, lane markings, and more.

“Intel estimates the vehicle systems, data, and services market opportunity to be up to $70 billion by 2030,” Intel stated on Monday. “The transaction extends Intel’s strategy to invest in data-intensive market opportunities that build on the company’s strengths in computing and connectivity from the cloud, through the network, to the device.”

The deal will combine Mobileye’s computer vision technology with Intel’s computing and connectivity assets spanning artificial intelligence, machine learning, data centers, localization, and mapping, and so on. In other words, Intel has positioned itself to provide autonomous driving services connecting the car to the cloud that are expected to “transform” the autonomous driving market.

In a message to employees, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said Mobileye’s technology will be paired with Intel’s Xeon processors, its new 3D XPoint memory, modems capable of 5G connectivity, and the company’s FPGAs, which are integrated circuits that can be programmed by customers in the field. According to Krzanich, the acquisition “merges the intelligent eyes of the autonomous car with the intelligent brain that actually drives the car.”

“Many of you have asked why we think autonomous cars and vehicles are so important to Intel’s future. The answer is data,” he said in his letter. “Our strategy is to make Intel the driving force of the data revolution across every technology and every industry. We are a data company. The businesses we focus on, and deliver solutions to, create, use and analyze massive amounts of data.”

Krzanich said the average autonomous car generates around four terabytes of data per day, which is the equivalent of the data generated by around 3,000 people per day. Thus, if 1 million autonomous cars are on the road, the generated data each day is equivalent to “half the world’s population.” That is an insane amount of data and Intel believes it can handle all of that while also providing high-performance, cost-effective autonomous driving services.

In a separate letter, Mobileye senior management told employees that once the acquisition is complete, Intel’s Automated Driving Group (ADG) will be integrated into Mobileye. Serving as a new subsidiary, Mobileye and the new ADG employees will be headquartered in Jerusalem, Israel. Mobileye was founded in 1999 by Ziv Aviram and Amnon Shashua, who will continue to run the company.

“Intel is not looking to have their people come in and run Mobileye — but that being said, there is much to learn from Intel’s experience, culture, expertise and resources in many fields tangential to our own and we plan to embrace this opportunity to learn and tap into their knowledge,” the letter said.

The acquisition is expected to close within the next nine months.