Waymo has a powerful ally in its effort to bring fully autonomous vehicles to market: Intel.
Google parent company Alphabet’s self-driving car unit on Monday said the compute platform on its self-driving Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivan was designed “entirely-in house” by Waymo engineers, with some help from the Silicon Valley chip giant.
“For our latest vehicle, our engineers worked with Intel from the design stage to integrate some of Intel’s most-advanced processors and other technology into our own platform,” the Waymo team wrote in a blog post, adding that the Google/Waymo unit has used Intel products since 2009.
“Our self-driving Pacifica minivans are now the most advanced cars on the road today,” the team wrote. “By working closely with partners like Intel, Waymo’s vehicles will continue to have the advanced processing power required for safe driving wherever they go.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich in a separate statement today said Waymo’s self-driving Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans feature “Intel-based technologies for sensor processing, general compute, and connectivity, enabling real-time decisions for full autonomy in city conditions.” In the future, Waymo’s self-driving hardware and software will “require even more powerful and efficient compute” in the future as it gets more capable, he added.
“Intel can offer Waymo’s fleet of vehicles the advanced processing power required for level 4 and 5 autonomy,” Krzanich wrote.
The SAE International standard defines automated driving based on six levels of capability, ranging from zero (no automation) to 5 (full automation). Level 4 (high automation) means the vehicle can handle all driving tasks in most situations, with possible exceptions during inclement weather or unusual driving environments, where a driver would be required to take over. Level 5 means the vehicle can handle all aspects of driving on its own, regardless of the roadway or environmental conditions.
“Given the pace at which autonomous driving is coming to life, I fully expect my children’s children will never have to drive a car,” Krzanich wrote. “That’s an astounding thought: Something almost 90 percent of Americans do every day will end within a generation.”
Ninety percent of deadly road collisions are caused by human error, Krzanich said, citing stats from the US Department of Transportation. Self-driving technology “can help prevent these errors by giving autonomous vehicles the capacity to learn from the collective experience of millions of cars — avoiding the mistakes of others and creating a safer driving environment,” he said.
Intel earlier this year made a huge investment in autonomous driving with its $15 billion acquisition of Jerusalem-based self-driving technology firm Mobileye. The company said the acquisition will position it as a “leading technology partner for the fast-growing market for highly and fully autonomous vehicles.” That acquisition came after Intel in 2016 said its investment arm, Intel Capital, plans to spend more than $250 million over the next two years to “make fully autonomous driving a reality.”
Meanwhile, word has it that Alphabet is considering a $1 billion investment in Uber-rival Lyft. Bloomberg, citing unnamed people “familiar with the matter,” last week reported that Alphabet has been talking with Lyft in recent weeks about the potential investment.