Itseez Acquisition to Help Drive Intel’s Vision for Driverless Vehicles, IoT
In breaking the news of a massive layoff last month, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich stated that the company is transforming itself from a PC and server company to one that “powers the cloud and billions of smart, connected computing devices.” One of the devices Intel wants to connect and make smarter is the automobile itself. Yesterday, the chip maker announced the acquisition of Russian machine vision company Itseez as part of its autonomous driving and IoT strategies.
Machine vision has existed for decades; in the early 1980s it was regarded as a hot new technology that would transform manufacturing, particularly automated inspection and quality control. Itseez is focused on development of computer vision (CV) algorithms for embedded and specialized hardware and is active in the robotics, security and entertainment industries. In automotive, Itseez (which lists Toyota as a customer) builds automatic driver assistance systems (ADAS), such as lane departure warning, traffic sign detection, forward collision warning and pedestrian detection.
Given the amount of time Americans spend in their cars – one estimate: 75 billion hours per year – the autonomous vehicle market has tremendous potential. Morgan Stanley estimates that self-driving vehicles could deliver $507 billion in annual productivity gains in the form of time savings and safety. “While the possibilities are exciting, the reality requires solving a myriad of technology challenges,” said Doug Davis, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s IoT Group. “Solutions will need to seamlessly deliver a combination of compute, connectivity, security, machine learning, human machine interfaces and functional safety.”
This includes over-the-air software management (to remotely update vehicles, embedded devices and IoT applications) and the ability to see and accurately interpret surroundings, along with methods for acquiring, processing, analyzing and understanding images from the real world in order to make informed decisions and automate actions.
According to Davis, Itseez (several of whose senior managers formerly worked at Intel) will help drive Intel’s IoT roadmap, which he said is focused on end-to-end solutions addressing devices, wired and wireless networks and the cloud.
In a blog post yesterday, Davis said Intel sees IoT evolving in three phases: 1) Make everyday objects, such as toothbrushes and cars seats, smart. 2) Connect the unconnected, with new devices connecting to the cloud and enabling new revenue, services and savings. 3) Build constant connectivity and intelligence into devices capable of making real-time decisions based on their surroundings. That’s where the Itseez acquisition fits in. From the third stage of IoT, Davis said, will emerge the “autonomous era” in which machine learning and machine vision will “become critical for all kinds of machines – cars among them.”
He also noted that Intel will support the work Itseez does with computer vision industry standards initiatives, including OpenCV and OpenVX.