DoCoMo, Ericsson, Intel among those in new auto consortium

Toyota car (Toyota)
The Toyota InfoTechnology Center is one of the members of the newly announced Automotive Edge Computing Consortium. (Toyota)

NTT DoCoMo, Ericsson and Intel are among the companies in a new consortium focused on building an ecosystem to support self-driving cars, real-time mapping and driving assistance.

Other members include Denso and Toyota Motor Corporation in what they’re calling the Automotive Edge Computing Consortium, which will focus on increasing network capacity to accommodate automotive big data “in a reasonable fashion” between vehicles and the cloud by means of edge computing and more efficient network design, according to a press release.

In the coming months, the companies expect to invite relevant global technology leaders to join them and expand the consortium. The companies also are members of the 5G Automobile Association, part of whose mission is to develop, test and promote communications solutions and initiate standardization on a global basis.

The edge computing consortium comes as Intel just completed the acquisition of Mobileye and announced that as an Intel company, Mobileye will start building a fleet of fully autonomous vehicles for testing in the United States, Israel and Europe. The first vehicles will be deployed later this year—and the fleet will eventually scale to more than 100 automobiles.

“Building cars and testing them in real-world conditions provides immediate feedback and will accelerate delivery of technologies and solutions for highly and fully autonomous vehicles,” said Amnon Shashua, soon-to-be senior vice president of Intel Corporation and future CEO/CTO of Mobileye, in a release. “Geographic diversity is very important as different regions have very diverse driving styles as well as different road conditions and signage. Our goal is to develop autonomous vehicle technology that can be deployed anywhere, which means we need to test and train the vehicles in varying locations.”

Building the test vehicles, Intel’s new entity will combine proprietary capabilities from Mobileye including computer vision, sensing, fusion, mapping and driving policy along with Intel’s open compute platforms and expertise in data center and 5G technologies to deliver a complete “car-to-cloud” system.

The fleet will include multiple car brands and vehicle types to demonstrate the technology’s agnostic nature.

Although the acquisition of Mobileye ups the ante for Intel in a big way, it already has some experience with autonomous cars. Kathy Winter, VP and GM of the Automated Driving Solutions Division at Intel, engineered a cross-country autonomous drive with an Audi Q5 a couple years ago when she was at Delphi Electronics & Safety.

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The car was outfitted with Delphi self-driving technology—and, of course, Intel inside—making it the first and longest drive by an autonomous vehicle in the U.S. The journey started in San Francisco, and Winter was in the car for the last leg of the journey to New York—all freeway driving, and 98% of the time it was in automated mode.