Computer chip maker Intel paid handsomely for a piece of the next big thing Monday as it offered more than $15 billion for Mobileye, an Israeli company at the forefront of autonomous vehicle technology.
The purchase, scheduled to close by year's end, creates another major player in self-driving technology as traditional automakers and tech companies vie to put the cars into public use. Most companies have predicted autonomous vehicles will be carrying people in the next three-to-five years.
The big investment by Intel validates predictions that autonomous cars will someday come in large numbers, signifying a sea change in the way we all get around, said Timothy Carone, a Notre Dame University professor who has written about the future of automation. "Major players are finding ways finding ways to position themselves for a change as seminal as the personal computer revolution," he said.
Jerusalem-based Mobileye, which makes software that processes information from cameras and other car sensors to decide where the cars should steer, has products on just about every automaker's autonomous test fleet. The combination with Intel adds hardware, more software expertise and data centers that the companies say will hasten deployment of autonomous technology, including wider use of automatic emergency braking and other technologies that already are on the roads.
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