Intel recognises drones as a computing platform of the future

5 Jan 2016

Drones: a computing platform for tomorrow

Chip giant Intel has described drones as a computing platform for tomorrow and has revealed that it is acquiring German drone maker Ascending Technologies for an undisclosed sum, indicating growing interest by large electronics firms in the emerging space.

Intel’s acquisition of Ascending Technologies comes hot on the heels of its $60m investment for a stake in Chinese drone maker Yuneec.

This latest move from Intel follows chip rival Qualcomm’s move into the drone space with plans to build its own drones.

A spokesperson for Intel said that it is not disclosing the financial terms of the acquisition of Ascending Technologies.

“It’s a small company with 75 people who are all receiving offers to join Intel. We are also not disclosing product roadmap plans at this time,” Intel’s spokesperson said.

Why Intel bought German drone maker Ascending Technologies

In a blog post, the general manager of Intel’s new technology group, Josh Walden, said that drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are quickly emerging as an important computing platform of the future.

“With practical applications ranging from disaster response, to infrastructure inspection, to delivery of goods, UAVs offer an incredible opportunity for innovation across a multitude of industries. As a result, Intel is positioning itself at the forefront of this opportunity to increasingly integrate the computing, communications, sensor and cloud technology required to make drones smarter and more connected.

“To further our efforts, Intel has signed a definitive agreement, subject to customary closing conditions, to acquire Ascending Technologies, a drone company located in Krailing, Germany, with best-in-class drone autopilot software and algorithms.”

Walden said that Intel is already combining the company’s sense-and-avoid algorithms with Intel’s RealSense technology for depth-sensing.

“With Ascending Technologies, Intel gains expertise and technology to accelerate the deployment of Intel RealSense technology into the fast-growing drone market segment.

“We plan for the Ascending Technologies team to continue supporting their current customers while also collaborating with Intel’s Perceptual Computing team to develop UAV technology that can help drones fly with more awareness of their environments,” Walden said.

Drone image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years