Intel is cruising into 2016 with the acquisition of drone startup Ascending Technologies, advancing its interests in developing drone products and solutions that utilize its patented RealSense technology and processing unit.
While the acquisition marks Intel’s first major step towards becoming a player in the fast-emerging industry, the move comes after the company tested the waters with a partnership with the German startup earlier last year. The two companies previously partnered to develop Intel’s RealSense technology, integrating with Ascending’s sense-and-avoid algorithm that helps drones gather a sense of depth and obstructions.
“With Ascending Technologies, Intel gains expertise and technology to accelerate the deployment of Intel RealSense technology into the fast-growing drone market segment,” Intel said in a statement. “We plan for the Ascending Technologies team to continue supporting their current customers while also collaborating with Intel’s Perceptual Computing team to develop UAV technology that can help drones fly with more awareness of their environments.”
Intel’s move into the drone industry comes at a time when tech giant Google and eCommerce behemoth Amazon are intensively working to develop the technology and gain an early bird advantage in the space. In April last year, after months of negotiation, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave approval for Amazon to test its delivery drones under tight regulatory standards, which dictated how fast and high the drones could fly.
Though it remains unclear as to when the U.S. market will finally see drone delivery turn into an everyday reality, the tech companies are becoming increasingly optimistic about the prospects.
“Three to four months ago, we were a little bit concerned about how much progress we could make here in the U.S., but … what we’re seeing today is significant opportunity to work here in the U.S. with the FAA,” said Dave Vos, head of Google’s drone program, earlier last year.