Intel buys autonomous car specialist Mobileye for $A20b

14 March 2017
, GoAutoMedia

Israeli driverless technology specialist Mobileye has been sold for $US15.3 billion ($A20b) to computer tech behemoth Intel, in a deal that will see Intel take a big step towards being able to offer advanced self-driving vehicles.

Mobileye’s suite of autonomous tech including cameras, sensor hardware and the software and processors that run them will be added to Intel’s current self-driving technology portfolio when the deal is finalised by the end of this year.

Mobileye’s shares have been valued at $63.54 ($A84.23) per share, totalling $14.7b ($A19.5b) enterprise value, but Intel has predicted that by 2030, market opportunity in vehicle data systems will climb to as much as $70b ($A92b).

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said in a statement to employees that computing technology will play an increasing role in the automotive sector, and will eventually be considered more important than the mechanics of a vehicle.

In his speech Mr Krzanich claimed that “Data is the new oil”, and added that the question of “what’s under the hood” will “increasingly refer to computing, not horsepower.”

Put just one million autonomous vehicles on the road and you have the data equivalent of half the world’s population.

“At four terabytes of data per day, the average autonomous car will put out the data equivalent of approximately 3000 people. Put just one million autonomous vehicles on the road and you have the data equivalent of half the world’s population,” he said.

“This massive amount of data requires all of Intel’s assets to provide the cost-effective high-performance solutions our customers need.

“I believe that today’s announcement puts us in the driver’s seat to achieve our vision of creating the technology foundation on which the future of autonomous driving will be built.” 

Mobileye’s centre in Israel will be used to headquarter the newly-named Automated Driving Group, and will be headed by existing Mobileye chairman Amnon Shashua.

The newly-merged company will go up against the likes of Qualcomm and Nvidia in the race for automated technology development.

The purchase will have obvious knock-on implications for vehicle brands who are looking to establish relationships with technology firms to co-develop self-driving tech.

Mobileye has existing partnerships with Volkswagen Group and BMW Group in developing autonomous cars, which could put the heat on rival Nvidia, who is partnered with VW Group-owned Audi.

The other heavy-hitter is Qualcomm Technologies, who finalised a deal to purchase car electronics manufacturer NXP, and has existing ties with both Daimler and Renault.

According to Mobileye co-founder, president and CEO Ziv Aviram, Intel will now be a more lucrative option for car-makers looking to develop autonomous technologies with Mobileye on board.

“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,” he said. “Together, we will provide an attractive value proposition for the automotive industry.”

Both companies will continue with business as usual until the merger is finalised at the end of the year.

Will software technology overtake mechanical technology as the most pivotal part of a car’s make-up? Tell us what you think in the comments below.