Qualcomm has been called the Intel of Smartphones due to its dominance over the mobile processor market, and it’s been trying to achieve the same level of dominance over the drone processor market. However, with its recent acquisition of a German startup by the name of Ascending Technologies, it looks like the Intel of Drones might end up being… Intel. Since it wasn’t able to secure a dominant position in the mobile processor market in time, Intel is trying to take control of the drone processor market while it’s still in its infancy, and with the drone expertise and technologies that it acquired with Ascending Technologies, it might actually achieve that goal.
Intel has made yet another hardware acquisition to build up its business of integrating its processors and RealSense imaging technology into the next wave of connected devices beyond PCs. Today the company announced it has purchased Ascending Technologies, a Germany-based startup that makes small drones and the software used to fly them. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed but Intel described it to me as a “small company”. All 75 employees will be getting offers to join Intel, she added. At a time when there is increasing regulatory and public scrutiny over drone safety and how they will be used, Ascend has touted its own software for its accuracy of movement, using LED-based “light painting” and long-exposure photography to show just how this works. Intel Capital had invested in Ascending Technologies and it partnered with the startup last year, integrating its RealSense image and depth-recognition technology with Ascend’s own “sense-and-avoid” algorithms that are used in its own devices and also sold to other drone makers. It actually demonstrated the integration at last year’s CES event. Tomorrow CEO Brian Krzanich is delivering a keynote once more and may well be talking drones once again.