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Intel set to snap up AI traffic insights start-up for transport hub

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According to reports, US chipmaker Intel is in advanced stages of talks to acquire the Israeli start-up Moovit, which uses machine learning to provide public transit insights to hundreds of millions of app users.

Moovit offers a free navigation app, which provides transit recommendations – generated by machine learning, using troves of traffic data – to around 800 million users across 102 countries and in 45 languages. The app also integrates with other transportation apps, such as Uber.

These insights could prove extremely useful for autonomous taxis and other vehicles searching for the most efficient route to their destination.

In April, Moovit launched a service for transforming vehicle fleets held by transit agencies into an on-demand service to transport key workers safely to their workplaces. The extreme and likely long-lasting impact of the coronavirus pandemic on public transport could present an opportunity for transportation companies to offer on-demand private fleets for business and leisure users which minimise the risk of viral transmission.

The value of Moovit is unknown, but likely to be well over $500m - its stated value during its most recent funding round in 2018. It has attracted an impressive roster of investors, including Intel Capital, BMW iVentures, Sequoia Capital Israel, NGP Capital, Sound Ventures, Gemini Israel and LVMH.

The planned acquisition was first reported by Israeli financial news outlet Calcalist, citing “people with knowledge of the talks”. Reports suggest that the deal is very close to being finalised and could be in the region of $1bn, with Israeli newspaper The Marker reporting that 10 per cent of the purchase price is being shared among its 210 employees as a retention package.

TechCrunch has reported that the start-up will be merged into Intel’s Israeli automotive hub, which is anchored by Mobileye. Mobileye, an autonomous vehicles technology company, was acquired by Intel in 2017 for $15bn - the largest acquisition of an Israeli company to date.

This automotive hub aims to provide autonomous taxis provided by Volkswagen, fitted using Mobileye vision-based technology and, presumably, supported by Moovit’s real-time traffic insights.

Intel and Moovit have both declined to comment yet on press queries about the deal.

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