Intel has announced that it's buying a 15 percent stake in Here, the mapping company that was spun out of Nokia, for an undisclosed fee. The chipmaker has also revealed that the pair will work together to build a new high-definition mapping platform for self-driving cars. Since the rest of Here is owned by the German car industry, it's not hard to see who might be interested in using that sort of technology.
Here was one of Nokia's last remaining jewels as the Finnish phone maker gradually atrophied on the way to Microsoft's disastrous buyout. It was put up for sale in 2015, with Uber rumored to be the most likely destination for the business. But in the end, a consortium representing Germany's car industry spent around $3.07 billion to secure the company for their navigation systems.
Here CEO Ed Overbeek explains that the pair will develop a "real-time, self-healing and high-definition representation of the physical world." That means being able to update maps with the latest data and use computer vision to identify potential obstacles and warn other cars nearby.
Speaking of which, Mobileye, the computer vision company that, until recently, supplied sensors for Tesla's Autopilot, is a big friend of both Intel and Here. Mobileye is a partner with Intel in its own self-driving technology consortium and also has a deal with Here to build a plug-and-play self-driving-car platform for the auto industry.
As the PC market dwindles and mobile computing takes over, Intel needs to move in a new direction to remain relevant -- and profitable. The company is dipping a toe into wearables, the Internet of Things and other arenas where its expertise and cash reserves could prove valuable. Intel is clearly hoping that Here can become a key component of our self-driving future, as well as smart homes.