Intel is going to buy Israeli car tech firm Mobileye for more than USD 15 billion, the companies said on Tuesday , in a deal signalling the US computer chip giant's commitment to technology for self-driving vehicles.
Israeli media reported that the deal worth approximately USD 15.3 billion was the largest ever cross-border acquisition for an Israeli tech firm. It comes with Intel and Mobileye previously collaborating with German automaker BMW to develop self-driving cars.
Intel and Mobileye said they expected to combine to become a global leader in "autonomous driving" that could provide the technology at a lower cost. "The combination is expected to accelerate innovation for the automotive industry and position Intel as a leading technology provider in the fast-growing market for highly and fully autonomous vehicles," it said.
"Intel estimates the vehicle systems, data and services market opportunity to be up to USD 70 billion by 2030." Last year, BMW announced that it was joining forces with Mobileye and Intel on a self-drive project for "highly and fully automated driving" to be commercially available by 2021, called the BMW iNext.
BMW announced in January it would deploy 40 self-driving vehicles for tests in the United States and Europe this year. In August, Mobileye and UK-based auto-equipment maker Delphi said they were teaming up to develop an autonomous driving system which would be ready for vehicle-makers in 2019.
Nearly all the major global automakers are involved in testing autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles, with some expecting full autonomy within a few years. Mobileye, whose speciality includes systems for accident avoidance, has concluded an agreement with Volkswagen on road data technology as well.
The Israeli firm was founded in 1999 and employs some 660 people. It has developed real-time camera systems used to avoid accidents with the help of algorithms that interpret the data. Its proprietary EyeQ5 computer vision processor gets input from the 360-degree surround view sensors as well as localisation.
Drivers may be familiar with its system that warns when they are approaching too closely to another vehicle or pedestrian. Mobileye co-founder Ziv Aviram said of the acquisition that "together, we will provide an attractive value proposition for the automotive industry". "We expect the growth towards autonomous driving to be transformative," he said in the statement.