Design your autonomous vehicle side by side with Intel

When I heard about Intel’s “garage,” I clearly had the wrong idea. I assumed it was like any other engineering lab, one that the company is opening up to partners to further their technology that’s related to autonomous driving/vehicles. In reality, the garage is far closer to your neighborhood service station than an engineering lab. In fact, it’s got lifts and oil and grease and all the things you’d associate with Wally’s Filling Station.

Intel has put together a place with areas for customers to work on cars, places for Intel engineers to work on cars, and places for joint development. But everything is somewhat segregated, meaning that there are areas where proprietary work can take place, if necessary. And it’s clear that if an NDA is required for your development, that’s not an issue.

The Intel folks looked at lots of possible locations for its garage, before finally realizing that the best location was right under its nose. The building that Intel got when it acquired FPGA-maker Altera was already outfit with an executive garage. And that’s where they ended up.

About a month ago, when Intel decided to go public with the garage, its partners also were on display. For example, Delphi offered rides around the streets of San Jose, displaying its automated driving experience. BMW had one of its fleet of 40 autonomous vehicles on display. And Ericsson showed the first 5G automotive platform, which communicated with an Intel platform, based on an FPGA running a deep learning analysis.

“We put the garage together and opened it to partners because we are really supporters of open systems,” said Jill Sciarappo, Intel’s Strategic Marketing Director for Autonomous Driving. “We believe that having an open system of hardware and software that everyone can design to is important to advancing the autonomous driving technologies.”

Intel is standing firm in its belief that the autonomous driving industry won’t really take off unless the hardware and software are standardized. Proprietary autonomous driving solutions that don’t talk to each other and all having their own forms of data won’t be scalable.

Sciarappo continues, “We see this garage as a way to encourage this collaboration across the industry, and really have partners reach out and align on the solution for autonomous driving as a whole.”

Interestingly, Intel views itself as a data company, rather than a processor company. They claim that, the more data, the better it is for their business. And there are very few industries that are producing data in the volumes that autonomous driving is. For example, look at the mapping that’s required to understand what’s going on with every vehicle in a car’s vicinity.

Despite what the hype is, Intel wants to own the brains in the trunk of every autonomous car on the road. And don’t forget that all that data goes up to the cloud, and who better to provide the processing power for the cloud infrastructure and all the services that go along with that than Intel? In totality, Intel looks at it from cars to comms/connectivity to cloud, spanning the entire ecosystem.

Seems like a win all around for Intel. And thanks to the garage, Intel’s partners win too.