PC gamers love the combination of Intel CPUs and Nvidia GPUs, but the two companies are actually bitter rivals in several markets. Just as Nvidia has been all up in the self-driving car market, so too is Intel. The world's largest CPU vendor actually already has an autonomous vehicle division, but today it took a flying leap by announcing its purchase of MobilEye. The $15-billion-dollar acquisition is the largest purchase of an Israeli tech company in history, according to the Times of Israel. Intel says that MobilEye will be merging with its existing autonomous vehicle team once the deal is finalized with shareholders and regulators.
You might already have heard of MobilEye's technology. The company's offerings are already inside several semi-autonomous vehicles, including Tesla cars. That particular relationship has recently come to a close, though, since MobilEye said that Tesla was using its technology in ways it was never intended. MobilEye insists that its technology is meant for driver assistance, not fully-autonomous vehicles.
It's possible that MobilEye's willingness to cut ties with Tesla had something to do with today's impending purchase. The company announced a partnership with Intel and BMW two months ago to put a small fleet of fully-autonomous test cars on the road. It's possible that Intel was impressed by what it saw during that initiative.
While $15 billion is certainly a large amount, the acquisition is just the latest item in Intel's long string of investments in computer vision and autonomous vehicle technology. Last year, Intel bought Yogitech, Arynga, and Itseez—all smaller companies working on technologies critical to autonomous vehicles. With those companies under its belt, MobilEye's sensor technology, and its own microprocessor expertise, Intel could be poised to offer a fully-integrated autonomous driving solution to carmakers.