Intel jumps on self-driving car bandwaggon

Chip giant offers integrated hardware/software platform to support infotainment today, driverless vehicles tomorrow

By Caroline Gabriel 

Like Google and Microsoft, Intel needs to drive next generation devices, not just follow the herd, and so ensure that its technologies remain essential. These days, of course, the car counts as a connected device, and the next step is the self-driving vehicle. Just after Google showed off its concept steering wheel-less car, Intel has announced hardware and software which will support better automotive safety and infotainment today, and move towards driverless vehicles in future.

The new family of In-Vehicle Solutions products aim to help carmakers and their supply chains to "quickly and easily deliver in-vehicle experiences", said Intel, by providing a complete platform, with processors, operating system and development kits. This pre-integrated, pre-tested and application-ready approach, so powerful in low cost handsets, will also reduce time to market for auto infotainment systems by over a year, claims the chip giant, and reduce cost by up to 50%.

The first available products focus on in-vehicle information (IVI) and entertainment systems, along with advanced driver assistance capabilities. Future additions will center on advanced driving experiences and self-driving cars.

"We are combining our breadth of experience in consumer electronics and enterprise IT with a holistic automotive investment across product development, industry partnerships, and groundbreaking research efforts," said Doug Davis, corporate VP of Intel's internet of things group, in a statement. "Our goal is to fuel the evolution from convenience features available in the car today to enhanced safety features of tomorrow and eventually self-driving capabilities."

Intel signalled its interest in this growth sector back in 2012 when it launched a $100m Connected Car Fund via its venture capital arm, with the stated goal of accelerating "the automotive industry transition to seamless connectivity between the vehicle and consumer electronic devices". That is the key to the intense interest in cars from many mobile and PC players - not just the chance to sell chips or software into a new segment, but the way a connected car could support new interactions with conventional devices; increased internet usage; and new revenue-generating applications.

The latest beneficiary of the Connected Car Fund was ZMP of Japan, which has developed an autonomous driving platform and vehicles connected with sensors, radars, and cameras. Intel's technology is used in BMW's Navigation System Professional, the Infiniti InTouch infotainment system in the Infiniti Q50, and the Driver Information System in the new 2015 Hyundai Genesis.X

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