Intel Intros Tech Platform for Connected Cars

The chip maker wants its In-Vehicle Solutions to be the foundational technology that drives the development of autonomous cars.

Intel car chip

Intel is unveiling new offerings and investments in automotive technologies as it expands its reach into the rapidly growing Internet of things market.

Intel officials on May 29 introduced the In-Vehicle Solutions family of hardware and software products—from compute modules to an integrated software stack to development kits—designed to make it easier and less expensive for automotive manufacturers and suppliers to build technologies into their cars that will improve the user experience and help push the industry toward autonomous, self-driving vehicles.

The new offerings come out of Intel's Internet of Things Group, which officials said generated $482 million in revenue in the first three months of the year, a 32 percent increase over the same time in 2013. A key driver of that growth was in-vehicle infotainment systems. During a Webcast event May 29, Doug Davis, corporate vice president and general manager of Intel's Internet of Things Group, said he envisions an evolution in the technology in cars from products that bring added conveniences to ones that offer greater security and safety to systems that enable the cars to drive themselves.

Intel's new platforms will "serve as the foundation" for the upcoming era of autonomous cars, Davis said during the event. "We will arrive at completely self-driven cars because we've seen the evolution [of cars] over the last six to eight years," he said.

Intel already has a presence in the connected car space. In 2012, the company launched a $100 million fund to invest in companies developing technologies for the automotive industry, and the chip maker's technology is used in such places as BMW's Navigation System Professional, Infiniti's InTouch infotainment system in the Infiniti Q50, and the Driver Information System in Hyundai's new Genesis.

Intel's newest efforts extend beyond investing in others by creating pretested and preintegrated platforms that can be adopted by the automotive industry for their increasingly connected vehicles. In addition, the chip maker is running research projects into making connected cars safer on the roads and more secure on the Internet.

By offering an integrated hardware-and-software package, Intel officials said their solution can enable car makers and suppliers to cut development efforts by as much as a year and costs by 50 percent. The compute module will be powered by Intel's low-power Atom chips, and it will run the Tizen operating system. In addition, the In-Vehicle Solutions offerings will include preintegrated middleware aimed at the automotive industry. Intel is working with a range of software vendors, including its own Wind River subsidiary, Green Hills Software, Mobica and QNX.

"Automobiles have integrated more entertainment and navigation," Intel's Davis said. "They need to become connected so we can pull data out of the car about how we operate the vehicles, and also to bring more autonomous capabilities into the car as well."

He said Intel envisions a driving environment that becomes safer and more efficient as the human element is increasingly removed from behind the wheel. There will be fewer accidents, congestion will be eased and pollution reduced as the car sends out and receives information about everything from traffic snarls to available parking spaces, he said.

The automobile has become a key focus of tech vendors looking to expand their roles in the Internet of things (IoT). Most recently, Microsoft officials in April talked about efforts in that company to make its Windows technology into a platform for the IoT. Google this week unveiled a prototype for a self-driving car that has no steering wheel, gas pedal or brake.