Updated Mar. 13, 2017 at 11:39 a.m.

Intel's $15B driverless tech buy + video, a look at robotic partners

Published: 2017-03-13 11:35:00
Updated: 2017-03-13 11:39:06

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Intel will buy Israel's Mobileye in a deal valued at about $15 billion, instantly propelling the computer chip and technology giant to the forefront of autonomous vehicle technology.

The deal announced Monday combines Mobileye's market-leading software that processes information from cameras and other sensors with Intel's hardware, data centers and its own software, giving automakers a one-stop place to shop for fully autonomous car systems.

"This acquisition essentially merges the intelligent eyes of the autonomous car with the intelligent brain that actually drives the car," Intel CEO Brian Krzanich wrote in a note to employees about the acquisition.


The race for autonomous vehicles: Who's working with whom

Intel said Monday that it will spend more than $14 billion to acquire Israel's Mobileye, a company that develops technology that essentially gives computers a sense of their physical surroundings. It's the latest push by a major tech company into autonomous vehicles.

Here's a quick rundown of who's working with whom:

  • INTEL/MOBILEYE

Intel snaps up Mobileye for more than $14 billion, gaining access to its expertise in computer vision and machine learning, data analysis, localization and mapping for advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous driving.

  • UBER/VOLVO/TOYOTA/OTTO

Ride-hailing company Uber Technologies and Volvo Cars signed a $300 million deal for Volvo to provide SUVs to Uber for autonomous vehicle research. The Volvo SUVs will be part of Uber's self-driving fleet of taxis in Pittsburgh. Both companies will continue to develop autonomous vehicles separately. Uber also is buying Otto, a startup that has developed software that lets big rigs drive autonomously. Earlier this year, Toyota Motor Corp. bought a small stake in Uber for an undisclosed amount.

  • LYFT/GENERAL MOTORS/CRUISE AUTOMATION

General Motors Co. invested $500 million in Uber rival Lyft Inc. earlier this year. The companies are developing a fleet of autonomous electric taxis that could be deployed through Lyft within the next year. GM also acquired Cruise Automation, a startup that makes autonomous vehicle software, for $581 million.

  • LYFT/DIDI CHUXING/UBER/APPLE

Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing invested $100 million in Lyft last fall. The partnership allows U.S. customers use the Lyft app to hail Didi rides while in China and vice versa. Uber recently complicated that deal by selling its China business to Didi in exchange for an 18-percent stake in the Chinese company. And there's another wrinkle: Apple Inc., which is believed to be working on its own autonomous cars, invested $1 billion in Didi in May.

  • GOOGLE/FIAT CHRYSLER

Alphabet Inc.'s Google, which has been working on self-driving cars since 2009, is working with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to build 100 self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans. The vans will let Google double the size of its autonomous test fleet.

  • VOLKSWAGEN/GETT

Volkswagen AG invested $300 million in Uber competitor Gett Inc. in May. Gett said it would provide Volkswagen with the technology to expand beyond car ownership and into ride- and car-sharing.

  • BMW/INTEL/MOBILEYE

BMW AG, Intel Corp. and Israel's Mobileye NV are teaming up to build and commercialize driverless cars. The companies say they could have autonomous vehicles in production by 2021. BMW's iNext electric sedan will serve as the platform for the technology. Intel makes the computer processors necessary to operate self-driving cars, while Mobileye makes advanced camera systems. The vehicles would likely be used by ride-sharing fleets.

  • FORD/VELODYNE/BAIDU

Ford Motor Co. is aiming to have fully self-driving cars — with no steering wheels or pedals — in ride-sharing fleets by 2021. Ford and Chinese search engine company Baidu Inc. — which has also invested in Uber — are investing $150 million in Velodyne, which makes the laser sensors that help guide self-driving cars. Ford also acquired Israel-based SAIPS for its expertise in artificial intelligence and computer vision, and invested in Berkeley, California-based Civil Maps.

  • AUDI/MERCEDES/BMW/HERE

Last fall, Nokia Corp. sold its digital mapping business, Here, to a consortium of German automakers for $3 billion. Audi, BMW and Mercedes say precise maps are a key to developing autonomous cars as well as advanced driver assistance features.

NISSAN/NASA

Under a five-year partnership, researchers from Nissan and NASA are working on autonomous driving systems and human-machine interface projects with software that can be used on both cars and planetary rovers. Nissan hopes to have self-driving cars on the road by 2020.


The combination, expected to close by year's end, will allow the companies to bring components to market faster at a lower cost, solidifying Mobileye's leadership position, officials from the companies said.

Automakers and some technology companies are testing autonomous vehicles in California, Michigan and a few other states. Nearly all use Mobileye's software, which reads inputs from cameras, radar, and laser sensors and makes decisions on what an autonomous car should do. Jerusalem-based Mobileye says it has contracts with 27 different automakers. It also makes software that runs automatic emergency braking and semi-autonomous cruise control systems that are in cars and trucks on the road today.

Autonomous cars will need higher levels of connectivity to the Internet and access to bigger data centers, which Intel can provide, Krzanich said. The two companies also will combine highly detailed mapping efforts. Automakers, Krzanich said, want lower costs, faster times to market and the ability to get an autonomous driving system in one place.

"If you put all of that together, you really get an end-do-end solution for autonomous driving," said Mobileye Chairman and co-founder Amnon Shashua, who will continue to lead the combined autonomous car unit.

In the deal, Intel Corp. will pay $63.54 for each share of Mobileye N.V., a 34 percent premium to its Friday closing price. The boards of both companies still have to approve the transaction. The companies put the equity value of the deal at $15.3 billion.

The deal is the latest combination as automakers and technology firms race to build autonomous cars and for leadership in life-saving electronics. Mobileye, with 660 employees, has been forming partnerships worldwide as its growth continued as a separate company. BMW, Intel and Mobileye partnered last year, and Mobileye teamed up with Delphi Automotive to develop building blocks for a fully autonomous car.

Competitors also formed partnerships in 2016. Ride-hailing company Uber Technologies and Volvo signed a $300 million deal for Volvo to provide SUVs to Uber for autonomous vehicle research. General Motors Co. invested $500 million in Uber rival Lyft Inc. to develop a fleet of autonomous electric taxis.

Google has a partnership with Fiat Chrysler to work on autonomous minivans, and Volkswagen is working with Uber competitor Gett. Ford has invested $150 million in laser sensor maker Velodyne, and it recently announced a $1 billion purchase of budding robotics startup Argo AI.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the Intel acquisition of Mobileye, which he said was the largest deal in the country's history. He said he's been assured that the company's operations will stay in Israel. "The purchase dramatically proves that the vision we are leading is coming true. Israel is turning into a global technology center, not just in cyber but also in the automotive industry," he said.

The combined global autonomous driving company, which includes Mobileye and Intel's autonomous driving group, will be based in Israel, supporting both companies' existing production programs and building on relationships with automakers, Tier-1 parts suppliers and semiconductor partners, the companies said.

Mobileye's stock jumped nearly 30 percent Monday to $61.34 in morning trading.

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