Intel has acquired a 15 percent stake on a mapping and navigation service company called Here and it is drawing an immense amount of interest. The move seems to bolster claims that the chipmaker is also eyeing the development of an autonomous vehicle technology.

Here's Acquisition Value

If the name Here rings a bell, that is because the Netherlands-based company has a storied background. It was first known as Navteq, which was bought and further developed by Nokia.

The company was finally acquired by a German automakers consortium composed of BMW AG, Daimler AG and Audi AG. Intel will be joining this group as co-owner, and the relationship seems to go even further than business partners.

There is no word yet both from Intel or Here that articulates the value of the acquisition. Based on the company's sale price back in 2015, according to TechCrunch, the 15 percent stake could be worth $390 million today.

Intel: Why Here?

In an official statement, both Intel and Here officials have indicated that the former's interest extends beyond the pursuit of profit. It will be collaborating with Here to develop its mapping platform further and work with its new carmaker partners to build an autonomous vehicle or at least a technology that can power a self-driving car

"Cars are rapidly becoming some of the world's most intelligent, connected devices," Brian Krzanich, Intel's CEO, said. "We look forward to working with HERE and its automotive partners to deliver an important technology foundation for smart and connected cars of the future."

Here's CEO Edzard Overbeek is more explicit. He pointed out that Intel's entry into the company will address the challenge of developing an autonomous system that requires powerful and capable computing technology.

Proof Of Concept

The official Intel release even cited a new initiative to develop a proof-of-concept architecture for autonomous vehicles and its partners will be testing the technology. One should note that this could be a boon to the automakers such as BMW, which for its part is poised to release its i3 electric vehicle this year. The company has already ended its research partnership with Baidu to develop a self-driving car technology.

Interestingly, if successful, the output, which could be similar to Tesla's Autopilot, will be made available across the automotive industry.

Specifically, accurate and comprehensive mapping data is critical for an autonomous vehicle to be successful. They are analogous to knowledge and experiences that provide insights to the way a self-driving car makes a decision and performs an action.

In this respect, Intel has touted Here's mapping model, which is cloud-based. According to the company, this variable gives the service an advantage because it can provide an autonomous vehicle the ability to see obstacles that are not present in its field of vision. There is also Here's capability to receive real-time updates such as traffic and road conditions, among others.

Intel and Here also revealed that they will also explore other technologies such as machine learning.

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