What's going on?
American tech giant Intel announced on Monday that it’s purchasing Mobileye, a company specializing in autonomous driving technology, for $15 billion. It marks the biggest deal ever in the driverless car industry! (tweet this)
What does this mean?
Mobileye develops “computer vision” technology that’s already used by car companies like Volkswagen and Ford. Its camera software helps drivers when they’re on the road by automatically parking their car or pressing the brakes if it senses an obstacle. However, Mobileye’s big picture idea is to have automotive software take the place of the driver, which it says will be able to see and assess risks on the road just as well as a human can.
Why should I care?
For the stock: Intel is looking to diversify its old-school tech business by adding an autonomous driving branch.
The purchase of Mobileye marks Intel’s second-biggest acquisition in the company’s forty-eight year history. It’s a sign that the company is looking to grow past the PC era, where it once was an industry leader in processing and semiconductor chip manufacturing. Now, Intel is looking to become an integral supplier to automakers building the car of the future, which is shaping up to be a massive data center on four self-driving wheels (sorry, Jetsons fans).
The bigger picture: The autonomous car could be the next big thing after mobile phones for chipmakers.
Having built the chips that power our smartphones, chipmakers around the world are figuring out how their tech might help power self-driving cars. Late last year, for example, German chipmaker Infineon bought a Dutch laser company that developed a computer vision technology for autonomous driving. Qualcomm, the world’s largest chipmaker, also agreed last year to buy rival NXP Semiconductors partly because of NXP’s expertise in building chips for cars. While Intel never really managed to pivot from making chips for PC processing to chips for mobile phones, it seems determined not to miss out on the next revolution within the industry.