Intel has announced it is to chase after rival Nvidia in the automotive market with a deal to acquire sensor specialist Mobileye for £12.6 billion - representing the largest ever acquisition of an Israeli technology company.
While self-driving cars are still an uncommon site on public roads, there are those who believe autonomous vehicles are the future. Nvidia, in particular, is bullish about the potential for technology to transform transportation: in 2013 the company opened a dedicated automotive technology centre in Michigan
, and in 2015 launched the Tegra X1 'superchip'
with features designed specifically for the sort of high-speed computer vision and sensing applications you need for a safe autonomous vehicle.
Rival Intel is now coming up fast on Nvidia's heels, though, and it's splashing its not inconsiderable cash to catch up: the company has announced a £12.6 billion deal to acquire Mobileye, a company specialising in sensor applications. As part of the deal, company co-founder, chair, and chief technical officer Amnom Shashua will head up a newly-formed company consisting of a merger between Mobileye and the Intel Automated Driving Group, with oversight from Intel senior vice president Doug Davis.
'This acquisition is a great step forward for our shareholders, the automotive industry and consumers,
' claimed Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich during the announcement. 'Intel provides critical foundational technologies for autonomous driving including plotting the car’s path and making real-time driving decisions. Mobileye brings the industry’s best automotive-grade computer vision and strong momentum with automakers and suppliers. Together, we can accelerate the future of autonomous driving with improved performance in a cloud-to-car solution at a lower cost for automakers.
'We expect the growth towards autonomous driving to be transformative. It will provide consumers with safer, more flexible, and less costly transportation options, and provide incremental business model opportunities for our automaker customers,
' added Ziv Aviram, Mobileye co-founder, president, and chief executive officer. 'By pooling together our infrastructure and resources, we can enhance and accelerate our combined know-how in the areas of mapping, virtual driving, simulators, development tool chains, hardware, data centres and high-performance computing platforms. Together, we will provide an attractive value proposition for the automotive industry.
Mobileye is perhaps best known for the company's acrimonious breakup with electric car maker Tesla
, following the fatal crash of a Tesla vehicle under the control of its built-in Autopilot system and for which Tesla publicly blamed the camera and radar system supplied by Mobileye.