By Kirsten Korosec
November 29, 2017

Intel is partnering with entertainment company Warner Bros to develop what the chipmaker describes as “immersive experiences” such as virtual reality for people riding in self-driving cars.

CEO Brian Krzanich made the announcement Wednesday at the LA Auto Show. Warner Bros will help create an experience for a concept car that aims to demonstrate what entertainment in autonomous vehicles could look like in the future.

It’s important to note that Intel does not have a commercial fleet of autonomous vehicles at the ready. So the announcement may seem premature. However, Intel contends that winning over passengers will be the ultimate test for autonomous vehicles. And that will be achieved through new entertainment experiences as well as increased safety.

Of course, the technology matters a great deal as well.

The partnership illustrates one of the many ways companies will be vying for consumers’ attention in autonomous vehicles once they’re deployed en masse. Once drivers become riders, the time they spend watching videos and tinkering with their smartphones or other connected devices will increase, Intel predicts.

Krzanich said these “immersive experiences” might include virtual reality and augmented reality features that riders can access inside the vehicle. “For example, a fan of the superhero Batman could enjoy riding in the Batmobile through the streets of Gotham City, while AR capabilities render the car a literal lens to the outside world, enabling passengers to view advertising and other discovery experiences,” Krzanich wrote in a blog post Wednesday.

“We have barely scratched the surface in thinking about the way cars will be designed, the interaction among passengers, and how passengers will spend time while they are riding and not driving,” Krzanich wrote. He noted that autonomous driving offers a new platform for innovation, including the interior of the vehicle, the entertainment offered to riders, and safety systems.

Intel has jumped into the race to develop self-driving vehicle technology. The chipmaker acquired Mobileye, a leading automotive supplier of sensor systems that help prevent collisions, earlier this year for about $15 billion.

Intel, and its new company Mobileye, are working on building out a fleet of 100 autonomous vehicles that are supposed to hit public roads before the end of 2017. The fleet of vehicles will include a variety of car brands and types.

Krzanich also renewed his call for industry standards that will definitively assign fault when collisions involving autonomous vehicles occur. The company plans to work with policymakers and other companies in the industry on how safety performance is measured and interpreted for autonomous cars.

“Setting clear rules for fault in advance will bolster public confidence and clarify liability risks for consumers and the automotive and insurance industries,” he wrote.

 

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