JERUSALEM -- Chipmaker Intel Corp. said it acquired Israeli public transit app developer Moovit for about $900 million to expand its portfolio of self-driving technologies that could take to the streets in early 2022.
Moovit will remain independent while its technology and the data it collects from more than 800 million users in 102 countries will be integrated into Intel's Israel-based autonomous car unit, Mobileye.
The price paid was nearly twice the $500 million valuation when Moovit last raised money in 2018.
"Moovit is an acquisition that fills some very critical gaps that we have going forward," Mobileye CEO Amnon Shashua told Reuters.
The initial goal, he said, was to have a small fleet of driverless taxis in countries like Israel, France and South Korea.
Moovit is popular for helping commuters or tourists find the best way to a destination by showing them bus and train routes, bike paths and car-pooling options.
Once integrated with Mobileye, the app will be a platform to order autonomous taxis and the real-time data will ensure the vehicles are deployed in high-demand areas, Shashua said.
Intel forecasts autonomous taxis will be a $160 billion market by 2030.
The decision to buy now, when much of the world economy is at a standstill due to the coronavirus outbreak, stems from Mobileye's ability to more accurately predict when its technology will be ready, Shashua said. And the target is 2022.
"For a company like Intel, which has a very orderly plan of how the future should unfold, the coronavirus should not be a setback. On the contrary, you should look at the crisis then find opportunities," Shashua said.
Moovit has raised $133 million from investors including Intel, BMW iVentures and Sequoia Capital. In 2018 it raised $50 million in an investment round led by Intel Capital.
Intel has made significant investments already in Israel, having acquired autonomous vehicle technology provider Mobileye for $15.3 billion in 2017. In December it bought Israeli artificial intelligence firm Habana Labs for $2 billion.