back to article Intel swallows Tesla-hating self-driving car biz Mobileye for $15bn

Intel will buy autonomous car-sensor company Mobileye for a whopping $15 billion – more than a third over what the company is worth. The company sells an in-car camera system that is rapidly becoming an industry standard for self-driving technology – a market that Intel claims will expand to $70bn by 2030. If that's true …

  1. macjules Silver badge

    Oops

    Mobileye's chairman and CTO Amnon Shashua warned that an autopilot system "is not designed to cover all possible crash situations in a safe manner ... It is a driver assistance system and not a driverless system."

    I presume that this also excludes Über?

  2. Starace

    Overpriced

    They've paid Internet bubble premium for that.

    Compare and contrast with the value of most of the major automotive component suppliers and it seems steep for what is a component that may or may not have a big future, from a company that does nothing else.

    And that's before we even start to work out where the financial return is meant to come from.

    1. thames

      Re: Overpriced

      For not much more than 3 times what they paid for Mobileye, they could have bought Ford or BMW lock, stock, and barrel at current market price.

      It will be a long, tough road to genuine fully autonomous self driving cars, and it will take deep pockets to continue the finance the R&D. Once it does become both practical and economic however, the auto companies will be looking to drive the price down by using competing suppliers, just like with every other auto part. The auto companies are not going to settle for having a relationship with Intel similar to that which PC vendors have with Microsoft. They're not going to let one company cream off all the profits just for supplying one small part of an overall product.

      I can't see Intel shareholders having the patience to keep pouring the R&D money into a project which won't pay off until the long run, and even then with fairly small profit margins by IT market standards. This sounds like yet another dead end venture which Intel has squandered money on to try to make up for having missed the boat on the mobile market.

      1. inmypjs Silver badge

        Re: Overpriced

        "Once it does become both practical and economic however"

        They you go again confusing Once with If.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Overpriced

      My first thought was "hideously overpriced". I've previously been quite critical of Mobileye technology as it doesn't measure distance and relies on a single simple camera. It seems primitive and dead end compared to LIDAR. On reflection however people don't have laser range finding and we can drive perfectly well with just one eye. It is conceivable that the comparatively low bandwidth of data coming from a single camera augmented with less critical rear and side views can be processed more effectively than the huge bandwidth coming from LIDAR. If that is the case then the cost of adding autonomous driving to a new high spec car (which already has Mobileye and a reversing camera) drops to a couple of cheap side cameras and a big lump of Intel silicon to understand what's being seen and perform the comparatively much simpler function of driving the car based on what the visual system has learnt.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Overpriced

      And that's before we even start to work out where the financial return is meant to come from.

      That should be obvious - very broad patents.

      With Intel's lawyers driving no one else will be able to manufacture and sell alternative systems unless they pay the dane geld.

  3. Gene Cash Silver badge

    "talking about computing rather than size of engine"

    Actually I talk about the 660 amp peak current and 13kWh battery on my electric bike. The "engine" is smaller than a paint can. We also swap CANBUS recipes.

    1. Simon Rockman

      Re: "talking about computing rather than size of engine"

      "Paint can", that'll be another one of those El Reg units of measure.

  4. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Yes, and Intel's acquisition of McAfee has brought so much to the world of PC security...

  5. jake Silver badge

    Oh, I dunno ...

    Lift, duration, overlap and timing combined with advance and CFM seem to be a lot more interesting in my circle than CPU ... although we've been reprogramming automotive computers since the mid 1970s.

  6. Grunchy Bronze badge

    A self-driving car is nothing but a robot.

    Robots are inherently dangerous machines. You never turn your back on a robot, or dare tread into its operating envelope.

    Letting them loose on the streets with several HP of power, let alone hundreds, is the height of foolhardiness.

    I'm predicting tragedy followed soon after by massive lawsuits...

    1. Dave Harvey

      And if you think that a robot is dangerous, then how could you possibly put a distraction-prone, unreliable HUMAN in charge of such a machine?

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. JeffyPoooh
    Pint

    A.I. is hard...

    "A.I. is hard, especially outdoors."

    I'm proposing the above two-word extension to the famous lesson from history ("A.I. is hard", where 'hard' is shorthand for 'nearly impossible') as the definitive sound bite that will most compactly summarize the next 10 or 15 years of self driving car development.

    1. JeffyPoooh
      Pint

      Re: A.I. is hard...

      You'll know that they're starting to make headway when they finally realize that self driving cars also require microphones, to hear the mournful wail of the ambulance which is perfectly obscured behind the van with the blaring horn trying to get the deaf self driving car to move over at the red light.

      Or notice the screaming passenger where something has gone very, very wrong.

      Or that odd thumping noise, indicating a tire is about to go BANG.

      Ears. That'll be the first clue that these brilliant designers have achieved their first clue.

      Next up, smell. What's that burning smell?

      A.I. in the outdoors requires senses. All of them.

      Where's MobileEar ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A.I. is hard...

        Or that odd thumping noise, indicating the victim in the boot has woken up.

      2. sal II

        Re: A.I. is hard...

        >Where's MobileEar ?

        I sense a business opportunity here - found MobileEar today, get a multibillion paycheck in a couple of yEars

      3. the spectacularly refined chap Silver badge

        Re: A.I. is hard...

        Or that odd thumping noise, indicating a tire is about to go BANG.

        No, computers have the edge there - it's the less easily controlled outside world that is problematic. I've lost count of the times I've been watching Formula 1 and hearing a pit message "Come in this lap, you have a puncture" - the team can see it on telemetry long before even professional racing drivers can feel it.

        F1 cars have large amounts of sensors onboard of course, but try plugging one of those OBD plugs in to your car with the proper software on your laptop. You'll be surprised how many sensors are already installed on modern cars.

        I doubt you could follow 100+ dials even if they were fitted to your dash. No such problem for a computer.

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