Intel powered fleet of fully autonomous cars on the horizon in 2017

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Chip maker Intel is entering into the self driving car space in a big way. It will put up a significant 40 test vehicles on the road through it’s partnership alliance with German car maker BMW and auto supplier and vision system specialization companies Delphi and Mobileye respectively by the second half of 2017.

This is the first major development from Intel after the chipmaker joined hands with Delphi and Israeli company Mobileye in July last year. The trio had promised to provide tech enthusiasts with an ultimate self driving machine by 2021. Mobileye’s vision systems have also been used in the autonomous systems designed by Tesla Motors. Interestingly, Delphi and Mobileye themselves had teamed up in August last year to pool resources and develop a near-complete autonomous driving system by 2019.

The plan is to create a mass market, off-the-shelf system that can be plugged in and incorporated into a host of vehicle types, including hatchbacks, sedans and even SUVs. Intel, as you might have already guessed, will provide the specialized computer chips (most preferably the Core i7 chips) to Delphi, the auto part supplier, and together they would develop an interface system that will enable even the less expensive cars in the future to drive themselves. BMW will be taking care of the control and dynamics aspect of the self drive technology package.

Earlier in November Intel’s venture fund announced it was investing $250 million in startups developing autonomous driving technologies.

Intel faces stiff competition in the automobile sector as a supplier of chips. Nvidia’s Drive PX2 provides 24 trillion operations per second, and the company has shown a more powerful follow-on, Xavier. There is also competition from Qualcomm and NXP Semiconductor.

One could certainly argue that Intel is entering the space very late and is only playing catch up with other chip makers, and that Nvidia has been in this space since a long time already, but the alliance of the three companies makes it a formidable competitor in the automotive semiconductor industry, which generated a revenue of $30 billion in 2015.

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