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Intel buys German drone maker

06 Jan 2016  | Dylan McGrath

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Intel Corp. is flexing its muscle as it moves towards the rapidly growing drone market. In fact, it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Germany-based drone maker Ascending Technologies GmbH. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition is the latest in a series of investments that Intel has made in drone technology over the past year. Intel and other chip vendors, as well as consumer electronics firms, are increasingly looking at the drone market as another market where technologies that have been developed mainly for smartphones, such as processing and high-quality imaging technologies, can be applied.

According to a report published last year by ABI Research Inc., the small unmanned aerial vehicle market will be worth more than $8.4 billion by 2018. The report predicts that commercial drone revenue will grow at a CAGR of 51 per cent from 2014 through 2019. By 2019, the commercial drone market will be worth roughly five times as much as the hobbyist drone market and more than twice as much as the market for military and civil service drones, according to the report.

In August, Intel invested more than $60 million in Chinese drone maker Yuneec Holding Ltd. Also last year, Intel announced a partnership with Ascending Technologies that included Intel take a minority stake in the firm and also made an undisclosed investment in San Francisco-based Airware. In 2014, Intel's venture capital arm contributed to a $10 million funding round for Raleigh, N.C.-based PrecisionHawk.

In a blog posting on Intel's website, Josh Walden, SVP and GM of Intel's New Technology Group, said the acquisition would give Intel expertise and technology to accelerate the deployment of its RealSense technology into the drone market segment.

"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," Walden wrote.

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