In addition to drones, virtual reality and smart sports gear, Intel is making strong moves in the world autonomous vehicles, something it recently demonstrated with a US$15 billion purchase of driverless tech company Mobileye. The computer hardware company has hit the ground running with its new acquisition, today revealing plans for a fully autonomous fleet of driverless vehicles to be tested later this year.
Mobileye's systems are already integrated into 237 unique car models and its chips feature in more than 3.3 million vehicles. In buying the Israeli company back in March, Intel hoped to combine that firm's expertise in computer vision, machine learning and mapping with its own computing clout. With autonomous vehicles on the rise, Intel expects they will generate more than 4 GB of data every day by the year 2020.
And it wants to play a key part in this future. Together with Mobileye it plans to build a complete car-to-cloud system, a kind of all-in-one autonomous technology package where cars communicate with one another and store data in the cloud.
To kick things off, it will build its own test fleet to trial these technologies (starting in the US, Israel and Europe this year), which it says will eventually scale to more than 100 autonomous cars. These will be fully autonomous SAE Level 4 vehicles, which means a high level of automation only requiring human intervention should unexpected conditions arise, like snow, for example. This is second only to Level 5, the type of cars that might include backwards-facing seats and an entertainment space.
"Building cars and testing them in real-world conditions provides immediate feedback and will accelerate delivery of technologies and solutions for highly and fully autonomous vehicles," said Amnon Shashua, soon-to-be senior vice president of Intel Corporation and future CEO/CTO of Mobileye. "Geographic diversity is very important as different regions have very diverse driving styles as well as different road conditions and signage. Our goal is to develop autonomous vehicle technology that can be deployed anywhere, which means we need to test and train the vehicles in varying locations."