There’s so much talk about what the Internet of Things will be able to do once it really gets going, but comparatively little time is spent wondering about the damage driverless cars, autonomous drones and worker-less factories could do if left to their own misprogrammed devices. However, it’s a Catch-22 to insist on human oversight of a world made of autonomous machines.
That’s why Intel has moved forward with plans to automate the safety of the automatic IoT world.
Intel announced Monday (April 5) that it had acquired Yogitech S.p.A., an Italian tech firm specializing in “semiconductor functional safety and related standards.” In a blog post, Ken Caviasca, vice president and general manager of platform engineering and development in Intel’s IoT Group, explained just how important controlling the ever-widening net of self-guided machines is — and how Yogitech is going to help Intel do just that.
“Today, functional safety (including Advanced Driver Assistance Systems or ADAS) is used to enhance the safety of transportation and factory systems,” Caviasca wrote. “One of the fastest-growing segments in automotive electronics, ADAS makes features like assisted parking possible and paves the way for fully autonomous vehicles in the not-so-distant future. As IT systems increasingly merge with operational systems in buildings, factories, vehicles (and more), functional safety is becoming important for a wide range of Internet of Things (IoT) market opportunities. By Intel’s own estimates, 30 percent of the IoT market segment will require functional safety by 2020.”
It only takes one self-driving car crash or one autonomous drone to drop out of the sky for the public to open their eyes to the need for more stringent safety measures around IoT devices, and TechCrunch outlined how Intel and Yogitech are well-suited partners to fight that fight. The Italian company made its reputation off the backs of tech embedded on semiconductor chips that regulate normal processes and, most importantly, send notifications to the relevant places if things are about to go haywire. At that computational level, Intel won’t have to wait before a self-driving car starts to swerve across lanes to know something’s gone wrong. It’s a comprehensive, two-pronged defensive scheme against whatever might go wrong with a moving world of IoT-enabled machines. Therefore, overall risks are minimized and incidents that do occur are able to be handled promptly.
The Yogitech acquisition also dovetails nicely with another startup Intel recently brought on board: drone manufacturer Ascending Technologies, which hangs it hat on real-time software that allows self-navigating drones to map and avoid obstacles in their paths. When retail giants finally get their drone delivery programs off the ground, it’s easy to see services such as those provided by Ascending and Yogitech coming into high demand, for as necessary a collision avoidance systems will be as drones start to buzz around urban centers, telephone lines and whatever else is thrown in their way, it’ll also be incumbent on those companies to ensure that those systems don’t break down mid-flight — and that they have policies in place to deal with the occasions when they do.
It’s a necessary part of the shift from employing IoT automation in software to the same with moving, nearly living machinery, and one that Caviasca believes Intel and its new partners are well prepared for.
“The industry is now moving from automating data to inform better decisions, to automating actions informed by real-time data,” Caviasca said. “You can see this evolution in the autonomous vehicle prototypes that nearly all have Intel inside. Functional safety is a requirement for these and other IoT customers. We see the combination of high performance and functional safety as a natural evolution of Intel’s IoT platform and strategy.”
Intel also announced this week that two longtime employees would be leaving the company. This included Kirk Skaugen who is the SVP tasked with leading its Client Computing Group (PC and mobile processors), along with Doug Davis, the SVP in charge of Intel’s Internet of Things Group, who has plans to retire at the end of the year.