2013 Automotive Electronics Special - Intel's inside story

By 2015-2016 cars and public transport could come with embedded Intel chips. Intel has big plans to drive its ‘Connected Car’ concept in India, says Kedar Jaidev.

Autocar Pro News DeskBy Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 19 Sep 2013 Views icon2214 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
2013 Automotive Electronics Special - Intel's inside story
Say ‘Intel Inside’ to anyone and you can sure that they will know you’re talking about the microchips that power most computers in the world today. Intel is currently the world’s largest and highest valued semiconductor chip maker. So, this begs the question, would the average car buyer be enticed to get a vehicle that comes powered by Intel tech?

Well, the company certainly thinks so and it has invested quite heavily in what it calls the ‘Connected Car’. In fact, Intel has set up a US$ 100 million (Rs 652 crore) Intel Capital Connected Car Fund, and followed it with the opening of a new global Automotive Innovation and Product Development (AIPD) centre in Karlsruhe, Germany, focused purely on research for its IVI (In-Vehicle Infotainment) capabilities.

The company has stated that this will be invested around the world over the next four to five years in hardware, software and services companies developing technologies to promote in-vehicle applications and enable connectivity between vehicles, mobile phones, GPS devices, laptops and even more complicated things like a car’s sensors.

We’ve already seen samples of connected-car technology in cars like the all-electric Tesla Model S, which is connected to the internet and Tesla servers at all times. Even tech like Wi-fi connectivity is slowly creeping into cars, so you can sit back and finish work on your laptop while on the go.

According to findings by technology research firm Gartner, “The next decade will bring significant changes to the automotive industry, and the next four years in particular will see critical milestones achieved in the evolution of connected vehicle innovations and the transformation to the era of smart mobility.” But, at least as far as the Indian market is concerned, it’s going to take time before we actually see the fruit of Intel’s work.

When asked how this will play out in the Indian scenario, S Natrajan, business head, Intelligent Systems Group, Intel Corp, says, “We’re still in the testing stages in the Indian market. We’re focussing more on the transportation sector right now and we’ll only see any realistic commercial application of Intel’s tech sometime in 2015-2016. We’ve already started testing in markets abroad, and some cars from Hyundai, BMW, and Toyota already come embedded with Intel tech.”

Intel in India is also focussing on improving safety for passengers in buses across India. Intel’s Atom chip is easily adaptable and can be used as an aftermarket fitment as well. The company has said it will be working on offering its Atom processors as both an aftermarket fitment and as an OEM-fitted accessory.

However, in terms of in-car tech, Intel still hasn’t begun testing on any Indian cars yet. In some markets abroad though, carmakers like Hyundai, BMW, Toyota, and Nissan have collaborated with the chip maker. The application of the chip ranges from simpler applications like mobile connectivity to even more complex applications like driver assist and allowing you to tweak the car’s electronics to adjust the way the car behaves, all on the go.



Step in time

Intel believes the connected car is the first step in the evolution of the vehicle as we know it today. A company statement says, “We foresee the need for cars to become increasingly intelligent with the ability to manage numerous connections within the car, to mobile devices brought into the car, to other cars as well as to the environment around it.”

It isn’t just Intel that’s at this game. The company also faces competition from the likes of NVIDIA, which is working on offering an upgradable connected car system, built around a flexible framework that allows a car’s processor to be upgraded, much like you can on any other laptop.

Intel wants to offer a cost- effective solution to most OEMs as far as their cars are concerned. “Car OEMs spend a lot of time and money developing their in-car tech; we’re offering a more cost-effective solution with our IVI chips. We’ve already started testing infotainment and tracking technology on long distance buses in Uttar Pradesh, but there’s no doubt, this process will take time,” says Natrajan.

So, if things go according to plan, expect to see a lot of cars with ‘Intel Inside’ branding pretty soon.
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