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Chipmaker Intel to invest in autonomous driving

Company wants to create open platform for cars to talk to each other

Published: November 19, 2016, 10:00 PM
Updated: November 22, 2016, 5:12 AM

Chronocam technology

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One of computing’s biggest names is ready for the autonomous vehicle revolution.

Intel has reportedly put aside about $250 million US for investments over the next couple years in start-up technology companies wading into autonomous vehicle waters.

Speaking at Automobility LA, prior to the start of the Los Angeles Auto Show, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said his company is ready to collect the large amount of data that will be generated and needed to facilitate self driving cars, as well as the technology to keep that data safe, an amount Krzanich says could top 4,000 gigabytes by 2020 (the year manufacturers such as BMW, Ford and Nissan are targeting for autonomous vehicle launches).

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“We want to have an open platform that lets cars talk to each other about fundamental technology,” Krzanich told Forbes. “Are you applying the brakes? Are you speeding up? Do you see the hazard? That basic data we want to be able to share.”

Intel already has several automotive partners, including BMW, with the two working closely (along with sensor maker Mobileye) in autonomous car development.

Intel faces competition from NXP Semiconductors (the world’s leading chipmaker for vehicles, which was recently bought up by mobile-phone chipmaker Qualcomm) and Nvidia (the mobile computer and graphics processor maker that already has a major autonomous vehicle partnership with Tesla).

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Intel has already taken steps toward its goal with the acquisitions earlier this year of Yogitech (an Italian company that deals in improving the functional safety of semiconductors), Arynga (a San Diego start-up that powers wireless software updates for vehicles) and Itseez (a Russian start-up that deals in Computer Vision algorithms and implementations for embedded and specialized hardware).

At the time of the Itseez acquisition in May, Intel’s internal news heralded the event as marking a transition from “a PC company to a company that powers the cloud and billions of smart, connected computing devices.”

Nvidia says its partnership with Tesla has put the carmaker far ahead in the autonomous driving race, telling investors that companies aiming for 2020 or 2021 are reviewing their timelines, but Intel doesn’t think it’s a done deal.

“There’s a lot of technology that still needs to get developed,” Krzanich concluded to Forbes.