Intel buys Moovit (because self-driving cars can’t be everywhere)

Chris Davies - May 4, 2020, 3:16 pm CDT
Intel buys Moovit (because self-driving cars can’t be everywhere)

Intel has acquired Moovit, splashing out around $900 million on the public transit planning app, with plans to integrate it into what until now has been the chip-maker’s autonomous car business. Moovit offers multimodal trip planning, spanning trains, buses, scooters, and other methods, and Intel says it intends to combine it with its Mobileye division.

At first glance, you’d be forgive for thinking that’s an odd choice. Moovit’s focus is predominantly non-car based transit, after all: while it does include ride-hailing and car-sharing services, it’s generally more commonly associated with the sort of trips that mix together bus, trail, subway, bike, and other methods.

Mobileye, meanwhile, is Intel’s focus for self-driving vehicles and the market they represent. When the chip-maker acquired Mobileye in 2017, it had already carved out a business selling tech like driver-assistance systems and sensor arrays to automakers. Since then, Intel has been positioning it as its flagship for things like robotaxi services.

The reality is, though, that even if such services begin to proliferate beyond the relatively tiny pilot schemes operating in patches of the world right now, we’re a long way from ubiquitous autonomous cars. For those looking to travel, it means figuring out how a self-driving cab might fit into their journey as one element of the overall methods of transportation. For driverless services, however, it’s about knowing where those schemes should be expanding to, and how vehicles should be positioned.

“With this acquisition, Mobileye will be able to use Moovit’s large proprietary transportation dataset to optimize predictive technologies based on customer demand and traffic patterns,” Intel explains of the deal, “as well as tap into Moovit’s transit data repository of more than 7,500 key transit agencies and operators, and improve the consumer experience for more than 800 million users worldwide.”

Moovit’s apps and existing consumer services will continue under their existing brands. “Combining the daily mobility habits and needs of millions of Moovit users with the state-of-the-art, safe, affordable and eco-friendly transportation enabled by self-driving vehicles, we will be able to make cities better places to live in,” Nir Erez, Moovit co-founder and CEO, says. “We share this vision and look forward to making it a reality as part of Mobileye.”

Moovit currently has more than 800 million users, the company says, and provides route-planning for 3,100 cities across 102 countries. Its apps are available for iOS and Android, as well as offering a browser-based interface.

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