Intel product line aims to open faster path for carmakers

Intel also has invested in a Japanese company that has developed a self-driving car

Intel's chip for cars code-named Crestview

Intel's chip for cars code-named Crestview

Intel made additional tracks into the automotive market Thursday, announcing a range of products in the emerging connected-car market that could eventually be useful in driverless vehicles.

The product line, called In-Vehicle Solutions, includes chips, development kits and an integrated software stack with an OS and middleware. The package is designed to help car manufacturers and their suppliers to incorporate technology that customers want in vehicles more quickly and easily, while lowering development costs, Intel said.

The first products released will be for driver assistance and telematics. The products are from the company's recently established Internet of Things group, whose focus is hardware and software for machine-to-machine communications.

Intel has sold chips to car makers for in-vehicle infotainment systems for years now, with its technologies used in cars from BMW, Nissan and Hyundai. But the company is also moving into the driverless car market that so far has been dominated by Google.

Intel invested an undisclosed amount in the Japanese robotics company ZMP, which has developed a self-driving RoboCar MV. ZMP makes cars with robotics, sensors, radar and cameras that could all be important for autonomous vehicles. The recent investment is part of Intel's US$100 million Connected Car Fund, established in 2012.

Google has been testing self-driven cars in northern California for over a year, already logging thousands of miles, with other technology companies in its rearview mirror.

Nvidia wants to build a self-driven car, but also wants to bring computing horsepower to cars to boost infotainment, navigation, image recognition and driving tasks such as braking.

Intel believes computing based on sensory input will be used in cars -- for example, using face and voice recognition to unlock doors. The company has said for years that it wants to provide technology for automotive cloud services.

Intel also Thursday highlighted a prototype vehicle with McAfee security software to ensure hackers don't get access to computers in a connected car.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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