News you can use: What's next for self-driving cars?

Thu, 2017-01-05 14:13 -- Doug Peeples

"Beyond the practical benefits, autonomous cars could contribute $1.3 trillion in annual savings to the US economy alone, with global savings estimated at over $5.6 trillion." That
statement from the Morgan Stanley lead analyst for North American automotive and related industries wasn't taken from today's headlines. He said it two years ago. Since then we've seen a growing number of partnerships between car makers and technology companies willing to invest millions of dollars to make cars safer, more convenient and responsive to drivers' needs and far more intelligent than the cars we're driving today.

Just this week Council Associate Partner Intel announced it is substantially ramping up its involvement in autonomous cars with a new partnership and new investments, as described in the story below. We thought you'd like to know about the latest developments because our stories on the topic have been  among the most popular with our readers. And as we've said before, autonomous cars will have an impact on cities, and they'll need to be accommodated in your smart city project planning. — Doug Peeples

 Intel, the world's largest chip maker, has been expanding beyond the PC market for some time with its involvement in 5G, the cloud, data centers and more recently self-driving car technology. During the past summer, Intel, BMW Group and computer vision company Mobileye joined forces to bring automated driving technologies into production by 2021.

And Intel has been moving even further into self-driving technology since then with reorganizations, collaborations and an investment of $250 million. And we may be seeing the results of those developments soon.

The three companies announced at the Consumer Electronics Show this week that they plan to put 40 autonomous test vehicles in service sometime in the second half of this year. BMW and Intel also said they are committed to sharing data and working with competitors because the industry needs an architecture that can be adopted and replicated by other car makers and product developers.

An unusual move, but a practical one
As Intel CEO Brian Krzanich explained, " We are trying to build an open platform that will benefit other companies wanting to get into this as well. We are already seeing savings and speed in development by sharing costs and in pooling resources."

Intel also has been making acquisitions to beef up its presence in the self-driving technologies environment. The company is acquiring a 15% ownership stake in HERE, a company that provides digital maps and location-based services for automotive and IoT applications. HERE is indirectly wholly-owned by Audi, BMW and Council Lead Partner Daimler, companies all involved in autonomous driving technologies. Intel will work with the car makers to develop the architecture essential for autonomous driving to be safe and predictable.

In related news...
Council Lead Partner Qualcomm, also involved in autonomous driving technologies, has begun promoting its Drive Data platform which can collect and interpret data from car sensors. The company sees several opportunities for sharing and using the data from the variety of sensors installed in connected and autonomous cars, including helping make cars smarter. A company official told engadget mapping companies may be interested in location data from a large pool of cars or, for cars so equipped, temperature and pollution level information.

Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.