After tech giant Intel revealed on 13th March that it was buying the autonomous vehicle firm Mobileye, James Pettit takes a look at the implications this deal has on technology in the market
At a price tag of $15 billion, Intel’s announcement on 13th March, that it is in the process of purchasing Mobileye, marks the largest deal that the driverless car sector has ever seen. But what does this mean for the industry as a whole?
The Israeli specialist constructs, as per its name, “vision-based” technology that is currently being integrated into car models for 27 different global car manufacturers including BMW, Ford and Nissan. Mobileye describe how their cars appear to have ‘a third eye continuously focused on the road’, with technology that calculates the relative speeds and distances of oncoming objects to minimise risks of collision, and even automatically braking or parking for their users. Looking into the future, Mobileye are pursuing a bigger picture idea in which automotive software will replace manual human driving, making it redundant.
It’s a marker of how emergent and promising Mobileye’s technology is, that this is Intel’s first substantial foray into the automotive market, and becomes the second biggest acquisition of Intel’s history. Looking to consolidate their prominent position in the technology industry beyond the computer era, Intel appear to be following the lead of other chipmakers who have also seen the potential benefits of investing in the self-driving industry. Last year the world’s biggest chipmaker, Qualcomm, bought their rivals NXP Semiconductors because of their specialisation in building chips for cars. Similarly, last year German chipmaker Infineon bought a laser company that develops vision technology for autonomous vehicles.
Intel’s purchase of Mobileye reflects a wider expectation that self-driving vehicles will have a defining part to play in the technology of the future. As artificial intelligence expert and academic Timothy Carone has previously noted: ‘Major players are finding ways to position themselves for a change as seminal as the personal computer revolution.’