Bill Ford, the executive chairman of Ford, said Intel’s $US15.3-billion acquisition of Mobileye shows how the self-driving-car industry will be built on “frenemies.”
Mobileye is a Jerusalem-based company that builds various vision-safety systems for cars. It develops hardware like camera lenses for detecting various obstacles, as well as artificial intelligence tools so vehicles can learn how to handle complex driving situations. Starting in 2018, Mobileye will work with BMW to crowdsource data of high-definition maps for self-driving cars.
Mobileye sells its technology to 27 automakers as well as other suppliers, according to the company.
The deal gives Intel access to a suite of driver-assistance tech and, perhaps more importantly, a large amount of visual data to help it build a comprehensive autonomous driving platform. What Intel brings to the table is the ability to process and crunch that data so vehicles can react quickly and safely to various driving situations.
Intel invested $US250 million into autonomous driving in January and plans to build a fully self-driving car with BMW by 2021.
But Intel may have to convince automakers it isn’t looking to keep all the data for itself.
“The question for Ford is, are they a friend or foe,” Ford said of the Mobileye deal during a panel at SXSW. “If they are a foe can we turn them into a friend?”
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said in a CNBC interview that he will work to convince automakers that this acquisition doesn’t make Intel a threat. Rather the company is aiming to build a “common platform” that automakers can then build upon.
“We don’t come onto this scene as a threat, we come on as a known technology partner that will provide a solution,” he said. “And so the car OEMs, which we have a great relationship with, don’t see us as trying to horde the data or take the data for us. They know we will build a partnership so that we can both benefit from the data and from the technology that’s going to be delivered.”
But Bill Ford said the Mobileye deal speaks to a larger shift in the auto industry as companies pursue self-driving cars.
“When you’re thinking of most automotive OEMs, there were no partnerships. There was a defined supply list,” Ford said. “In Silicon Valley, they coined the term frenemies — and that’s the world where we’re going to be living, where we compete with people on some levels, and partner with them on another.”