Intel Acquires Mobileye, Combining Powerful AI And Machine Vision Tech For Autonomous Cars

Mobileye Automobile Sensing

Intel on Monday announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase Mobileye, an Israeli technology company that develops vision-based advanced driver assistance systems providing warnings for collision prevention and mitigation. Combined with Intel's high performance computing solutions and expertise in connectivity, the Santa Clara chip maker envisions creating automated driving solutions from cloud to car.

As part of the agreement, a subsidiary of Intel will purchase all issued and outstanding ordinary shares of Mobileye for $63.54 per share in cash. That represents an equity value of around $15.3 billion, and an enterprise value of $14.7 billion. It's a big spend, though the emerging autonomous vehicle market has the potential for big rewards—Intel estimates the market opportunity for related vehicle systems, data, and service to be $70 billion 2030. This transaction positions Intel to be a leading technology provider in the field of self-driving cars.

Brian Krzanich

"This acquisition is a great step forward for our shareholders, the automotive industry and consumers," said Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO. "Intel provides critical foundational technologies for autonomous driving including plotting the car’s path and making real-time driving decisions. Mobileye brings the industry’s best automotive-grade computer vision and strong momentum with automakers and suppliers. Together, we can accelerate the future of autonomous driving."

Once completed, the transaction will combine Mobileye with Intel's Automated Driving Group, which will be headquartered in Israel and led by Professon Amnon Shashua, Mobileye's co-founder, chairman, and CTO. The combined global organization that comes out of this will support both companies' existing production programs while trying to build relationships with automotive OEMs, tier-1 suppliers, and semiconductor partners, all in an effort to develop advanced driving assist, highly autonomous, and fully autonomous driving programs.

The agreement to purchase Mobileye comes several months after the company parted ways with Tesla, a decision Mobileye made not long after the first death was reported of a driving using Tesla's Autopilot system. Mobileye felt that Tesla was being too aggressive in pushing the envelope, in terms of safety.

Mobileye Overview

Tesla's loss is Intel's gain, which is getting a major force here. Mobileye's EyeQ chips are installed in around 16 million vehicles. The company has a portfolio of surround vision, sensor fusion, mapping, and driving policy products that are used by several OEM automakers, including GM, Volvo, Ford, Nissan, Kia, Audi, Chrysler, Hyundai, Honda, BMW, and more. It also has nearly two decades of experience (Mobileye was founded in 1999) and around 660 employees.

In a letter to employees, Krzanich explained that this transaction brings together the assets of Intel's Xeon processor, FPGAs, 3D XPoint memory, and 5G modems with the world leader in automotive computer vision.

"This acquisition essentially merges the intelligent eyes of the autonomous car with the intelligent brain that actually drives the car," Krzanich said.

Mobileye Market Segment

He also explained that Intel's major role and interest here is data. The company's strategy is to make Intel the driving force of the data revolution across every technology and every industry, and autonomous vehicles fits right into that. As noted in the above slide, cars of the future are evolving to be data centers on wheels, and Intel wants to the be the one processing that data. By 2020, Intel expects that autonomous vehicles will collectively generate 4,000GB (4TB) of data per day.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of the year. It has already been approved by the board of directors for both Intel an Mobileye and is now subject to regulatory approvals and other closing conditions.