NVIDIA and Intel Race for Autonomous Vehicles

By Doug Mohney March 17, 2017

While Intel was basking in the glow of a $15 billion deal for Israel-based Mobileye this week, NVIDIA announced autonomous vehicle partnerships with Bosch and truck manufacturer PACCAR.  The two companies are battling to own the autonomous vehicles space, but Intel is the one playing catch up.

The market for autonomous vehicles, including systems, data, and services, is expected to be worth up to $70 billion by 2030. Intel is paying out $15.3 billion in cash for Mobileye shares.  Given Intel is worth around $166 billion, this is a significant chunk of money and effort for one company, but it's more than just cash going on.

Once the merger is complete, Mobileye will be the leader of Intel's autonomous driving organization headquartered in Israel, combining it with Intel's existing Automated Driving Group. At the head of the new organization is Professor Amnon Shashua, Mobileye's co-founder, Chairman, and CTO, with Intel Senior Vice President Doug Davis reporting to Shashua after the transaction's close.

It's a big bet for Intel. Mobileye's claims to value are a suite of technologies including computer vision and machine learning, data analysis, localization and mapping for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving.  Proprietary software algorithms and EyeQ custom silicon interprets what vehicle cameras “see,” including vehicles, pedestrians, roadway markings, barriers, traffic signs and traffic lights.

Mobileye products have been or will be integrated into car models from more than 25 global automakers, as well as aftermarket products.  Key partnerships have been established with BMW, Delphi, and VW. 

It will take time for Intel and Mobileye to finalize the merger and move forward.  In the meantime, NVIDIA came out swinging with silicon and vehicle partnerships to grow its reach into the automotive world and beyond.  Bosch, the world's largest automobile supplier, announced it is working with NVIDIA to develop self-driving systems. 

Specifically, NVIDIA and Bosch are developing an AI “self-driving” car computer built on NVIDIA's deep learning software and hardware that enables vehicles to be trained to drive, operated autonomously and updated over the air with new features and capability.   NVIDIA will provide its DRIVE PX AI computer to process the data coming in from Bosch auto sensors, including its own ADAS video system.

Complicating matters, Bosch considers Intel a partner, but Mobileye a competitor in the ADAS system space.  How relations between Bosch and Intel evolve in the future is an open question, but one that will be ultimately driven by what parts and systems auto manufacturers select for their vehicles.

NVIDIA also expanded its market beyond stock consumer vehicles by announcing its partnership with PACCAR.  The global truck manufacturer has the Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF lines of trucks and has developed a proof-of-concept self-driving truck built on NVIDIA DRIVE PX2 technology.   Over 300 million trucks are on the roads worldwide, moving over 1.2 trillion miles a year.  In the U.S., there are about 5.6 million or so tractor trailers registered for use and 3.2 million licensed truck drivers.

Incorporating self-driving capabilities and other intelligent features to commercial vehicles would save energy and improve safety.  Sixty-eight percent of all the goods in the U.S. are delivered by semi-truck, working out to 60,000 pounds of goods per person every year. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates over 500,000 truck accidents occur every year, with around 1 percent or so resulting in fatalities.

NVIDIA holds a leadership position within the automotive industry at this time, but standards, technology, and the industry are still evolving to adopt to autonomous vehicles.  Given the conservative and slow-moving (by tech standards) nature of the auto industry, there's still plenty of room for both NVIDA and Intel to secure and keep market share. 

More strategically, Intel is being pressed by NVIDIA not only in the auto industry, but in AI and high-end “supercomputing” applications.   With continued struggles in mobile devices and the maturing of the PC market, Intel can't afford to sit out autos, even if it has to put out $15 billion to become more competitive.

If you’d like to hearn more about AI, machine learning and analytics, be sure to check out TMC and Crossfire Media’s newest conference and expo, Communications 20/20, happening July 18-20 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The event will focus on the next wave of technology and innovations that will transcend the importance of person to person contact, disrupting the future of the entire communications industry. Find out more HERE.

Edited by Alicia Young

Contributing Editor

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