Intel announced the purchase Monday of Israel’s Moovit, a mobility as a service (MaaS) company, for $900 million.
The purchase advances chip giant Intel’s focus on technologies to support transportation and autonomous driving tech. In 2017, Intel bought Israeli-based Mobileye for $15.3 billion and has seen early revenue gains from that decision.
Intel CEO Bob Swan said in a statement that the Moovit acquisition will accelerate Mobileye’s ability to revolutionize transportation as a “full-stack mobility provider” to reduce congestion and save lives. The Moovit brand will continue under Mobileye, Intel said.
Mobileye wants to provide robot taxi services as part of its transportation mission that today includes development of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) already deployed on 60 million vehicles made by 25 automakers. The overall robot taxi service industry is estimated to produce $160 billion in revenues by 2030, Intel said. When ADAS, data and MaaS tech are combined, the revenues will reach $230 million by 2030.
Moovit makes a free urban mobile navigation app that is used by 800 million users in 3,100 cities in more than 100 countries. The app allows multimodal trip planning that combines public transit, bicycle and scooter services, ride-hailing and car-sharing. Last month, Moovit launched an on-demand emergency mobilization service to help companies and transit agencies provide assistance to essential workers in shuttling people to work amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Moovit app, which runs on iOS or Android or a transit agency app powered by Moovit, allows riders to request a pre-scheduled ride that is shared, but with social distancing standards. The new emergency mobilization service has been implemented by large corporations in a number of cities, the company said.
Moovit was founded in 2012 in Tel Aviv and has about 200 employees. In the past two years, the number of users of the app has increased sevenfold. Mobileye expects to use Moovit’s proprietary transportation dataset to optimize predictive technologies that rely on customer demand and traffic patterns. Also Mobileye will tap into Moovit’s transit data repository of more than 7,500 transit agencies and operators globally.
“Mobility is a basic human right and as cities become more crowded, urban mobility becomes more difficult,” said Nir Erez, co-founder and CEO of Moovit. “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.”
Buying Moovit positions Intel as a provider of transit services atop of hardware and artificial intelligence capabilities inside chips for self-driving van fleets and taxis. Some analysts believe the recent COVID-19 crisis has hurt auto makers so drastically that research and development of ADAS and autonomic vehicle technologies will be slowed a year or more. With such a slowdown, it isn’t clear how much research will be done with robot taxis or fleets, although Intel seems prepared to forge ahead.
Gartner analyst Michael Ramsey in a recent email interview predicted a slowdown in robot taxi development in favor of autonomy for vehicles used in more specialized applications such as mining, logistics and warehouse operations.