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The Drone Chip Wars: Intel to Buy Movidius

MovidiusIntel has announced that they will purchase Movidius, an Irish company focusing on computer vision technology.  This is just the latest announcement of Intel’s investment in the drone and Internet-of-Things (IoT) space.  Details of the deal have not yet been made public.

Movidius has raised over $85 million in venture capital over the last 11 years. It develops “vision-processing units” used in drones, robots, and other autonomous technology.  Movidius has been a high profile player, as they were an early collaborator with Google in Project Tango – a plan to measure and map objects and spaces using smartphones.  Last March, Movidius announced a partnership with leading drone manufacturer DJI.  The resulting technology was the Phantom 4’s much touted sense and avoid capability, combined with the ability to hover in a fixed position without GPS.  Both companies said at the time that the partnership was a long term agreement:

Paul Pan, Senior Product Manager at target=”_blank”> target=”_blank”>DJI said that “Movidius’ vision processor platform, Myriad 2, met the rigorous requirements we set for our flagship product, and we look forward to continued collaboration with Movidius as we push the boundaries in the drone market.”  Movidius COO Sean Mitchell stated that “DJI has set the direction for the future of the drone market and we are excited to incorporate Movidius’ low power artificial vision intelligence technology into DJI drones moving forward.”

Now Movidius’ technology will be incorporated with Intel’s own sense and avoid capabilities, RealSense.  “We see massive potential for Movidius to accelerate our initiatives in new and emerging technologies,” says Josh Walden, SVP of Intel’s new technology group, in a statement.  “The ability to track, navigate, map and recognize both scenes and objects using Movidius’ low-power and high-performance SoCs opens opportunities in areas where heat, battery life and form factors are key. Specifically, we will look to deploy the technology across our efforts in augmented, virtual and merged reality (AR/VR/MR), drones, robotics, digital security cameras and beyond. ”

Adding Movidius to Intel’s rapidly growing portfolio of drone technology could push the company ahead as they fight to be at the forefront of the drone, robotics, and IoT business.   It’s a strong move from the company that is re-inventing itself; having long been criticized for missing the smartphone market, Intel is skipping ahead to be ready to meet the next wave of Silicon Valley innovation.

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