Intel is buying into maps because it can’t afford to miss out on self-driving cars

Ina Fried
A driver looks from an Uber self-driving car on September 13, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Angelo Merendino | AFP | Getty Images

Intel wants to be a part of the car of the future and it isn't afraid to drop a big chunk of change to do so.

The company said Tuesday it is buying 15 percent of Here Maps, the former Nokia mapping unit owned by a consortium of German carmakers.

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No one is talking price, but the carmakers bought the unit from Nokia last year for $2.8 billion, so it's reasonable to think Intel paid several hundred million dollars. The carmakers had said last year they were looking to bring in additional investors, including US tech companies.

High-definition maps are a key component to self-driving cars, providing the in-car computers with not just addresses and places, but information on lane markers, intersections and a blueprint for exactly where the car is on the road at any given time.

The move is part of Intel's broader strategy, which can be summed up as, "We missed out on mobile, let's not miss out on what's next."

To that end, Intel has been investing heavily in things like computer vision, sports technology and virtual reality.

Intel has already made moves into cars, including a deal last year with BMW and MobileEye.

By Ina Fried,

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