Intel and Google admit to working together on self-driving cars for years

19 Sep 2017

Waymo’s self-driving Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans that use Intel’s sensors and technology. Image: Intel Corporation

Intel and Google’s Waymo have jointly revealed that they are working together on self-driving car technology, years after their first collaboration.

Unknown to many, Intel has been helping Google’s self-driving car division, Waymo, for years, and has now decided to announce its continued partnership.

In a blogpost, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich revealed that Intel’s sensors and processors have been used as part of Waymo’s Chrysler Pacifica test vehicles since 2015.

Intel’s collaboration with Google began in 2009, before Waymo was officially founded, when the former began supplying Google with the necessary chips for autonomous systems. Their connections grew following Google’s partnership with auto giant Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

“As Waymo’s self-driving technology becomes smarter and more capable, its high-performance hardware and software will require even more powerful and efficient compute,” Krzanich said.

“By working closely with Waymo, Intel can offer Waymo’s fleet of vehicles the advanced processing power required for Level 4 and 5 autonomy.”

Many of the existing self-driving cars on US roads, including Waymo’s, are currently within or close to Level 4 autonomy, one step away from being advanced enough to be fully autonomous.

Intel’s prowess in sensor technology was boosted significantly earlier this year with the purchase of its one-time partner, Mobileye, in a massive $15.3bn deal.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik issued his own statement on the partnership saying that Intel’s chips were necessary for its cars to be capable of reacting to real-world road conditions.

“Intel’s technology supports the advanced processing inside our vehicles, with the ability to manufacture to meet Waymo’s needs at scale,” he said.

This news coincides with another Intel statement that it has invested approximately $1bn in artificial intelligence start-ups so far, and plans to invest more in the years to come.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic