Path to Driverless Transportation Rolls Through Data Collection, Analytics

Mar 15, 2017 1:30 PM ET

Data collection and the processing power needed to support autonomous driving are huge areas of focus for development. Companies are investing heavily in driverless technologies, evidenced by news that Intel Corp. is acquiring Mobileye, an autonomous driving technology leader whose portfolio includes machine learning, road mapping, sensors, and data analytics among other technologies.

The $15 billion purchase of Mobileye by Intel has enormous implications for automotive chipset integration in the autonomous driving market. For Intel, mapping may be the first application that the chip-maker could commercialize with the Mobileye acquisition. Real-time mapping is a useful component to today’s advanced driving tools, and one that provides an opportunity to integrate chipsets within automotive management systems. These same processors can communicate with vehicle sensors and control systems to provide precise location and relation information. 

Such applications require low-latency, real-time processing. Easing traffic congestion is a key objective of Smart City programs and there is growing interest in improving vehicular movement and optimization of path. Assisted driving will require large volumes of processing support for incident avoidance and emergency braking. 

For more information about the connections between smart cities, smart transportation and data analytics, download Black & Veatch's 2017 Strategic Directions: Smart City/Smart Utility Report

Integration of in-vehicle communications technology is a significant revenue opportunity. Virtually every automotive manufacturer has an initiative focused on assisted or autonomous driving. Intel’s acquisition of Mobileye provides them a path to more rapidly commercialize that technology. In the mid-term, there will be opportunities to provide intelligence to autonomous vehicles like small transit buses traveling along predictable paths. Trials of this technology are already underway in many locations all over the world. In the longer term, full autonomous driving will emerge.

It will be important to consider the implications of data’s role in smarter transportation, especially for cities. Leaders of the smart city movement believe open data architecture will promote growth and development within their urban cores, resulting in an increased economic base. As more devices become chip-enabled, more data is collected and analyzed, with processing taking place at the edge where the device resides, and through communications networks and the cloud to places where the data can be aggregated and analyzed. 

At every stage of this ecosystem there is opportunity for products that include components developed or manufactured by Intel and their competitors. Companies specializing in systems integration can help cities take full advantage of these emerging technologies. Greater volumes of data means increased need for servers and data centers. 

These are all growth opportunities for Intel and other companies seeking to establish beachheads in the market for smart transportation and smart cities. Through targeted acquisitions like Mobileye, Intel may be able to increase the likelihood that it is their chipsets that become part of the foundational architecture of autonomous driving technology. These and other technology companies want to drive further up the stack to ensure their product is at the core. If they can make additional revenue off the applications themselves, they can generate even stronger returns for their shareholders.