To coincide with CES 2016 in Las Vegas Intel announced the completed acquisition of specialist drone manufacturer Ascending Technologies.
Preferring to use the term “unmanned aerial vehicles” (UAVs) instead of “drones”, Intel claimed the technology is quickly becoming an important computing platform of the future; with practical applications and use-cases being disaster or emergency scenario response, goods delivery, and infrastructure inspection. The last of the three use-cases is particularly pertinent considering du and Nokia last year began utilising drones to conduct live tests on its network infrastructure.
The move by Intel could be seen as a direct response to Qualcomm’s acquisition of KMel Robotics in February last year. KMel specialises in accurate motion robotics using what is referred to as precision guidance systems and had previously conducted projects for US military branch DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).
With Intel being the dominant computing chip-maker, the acquisition will likely form part of its wider ambition of becoming the leading chip-maker for the burgeoning drone industry; a sentiment hinted at by Josh Walden, GM of Intel’s New Technology Group writing on the company’s blog.
“With Ascending Technologies, Intel gains expertise and technology to accelerate the deployment of Intel RealSense technology into the fast growing drone market segment,” he said. “We plan for the Ascending Technologies team to continue supporting their current customers while also collaborating with Intel’s Perceptual Computing team to develop UAV technology that can help drones fly with more awareness of their environments.”
The deal is still subject to closing conditions, and the terms of the acquisition have not been made public; and subject of the takeover, Germany-based Ascending Technologies, has specialised in sense-and-avoid software algorithms, in order to increase the intelligence and survivability of each UAV.
Last year, Intel released the below video in partnership with Ascending to demonstrate the real-time motion sensing and avoidance technology, which they’ve since acquired.