Sports and self-driving cars are normally fairly unrelated, but Intel is taking an initial shot at changing that by making basketball superstar LeBron James the face of a new ad campaign aimed at promoting autonomous driving. The ad plays to the fear of the unknown and the manner in which a concept of a driverless car may present itself to somebody who hasn't taken the time to study how such a creation works. The commercial starts off with LeBron James talking with some friends and waiting for a ride. When a car with no driver rolls up, he gives it a look and lets out a short "nope," a sentiment commonly echoed by skeptics and those who aren't well-versed in the tech. By the end of the commercial, however, LeBron proclaims that he wants to keep the car, and Intel is hoping that leap of faith will encourage viewers to make one of their own.
It is worth noting that Intel is not in the business of actually creating self-driving cars or software for them, but the company does supply chipsets that can power autonomous vehicles. By fostering mass acceptance of autonomous vehicles, Intel stands to open up a market set to hit the ground running, and most likely get in on it by winning contracts with multiple software houses and automakers to supply the systems that their self-driving cars will utilize in the future.
The autonomous car market has not yet reached mass consumer status but is already heating up significantly. Google's Waymo has self-driving cars on limited public testing in some areas, something that Uber was doing for a while before the company became embroiled in a legal battle with Waymo over stolen trade secrets. Meanwhile, Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Qualcomm, and a long list of other names including Chinese OEM LeEco all have a stake in the world of autonomous cars in some way. The technology's initial period on the mass market is likely to be characterized by high supply and exceedingly low consumer demand, though other sectors like enterprise and government may want on board, and Intel's newest commercial may be the first of many efforts to open consumers to the concept before it becomes an everyday reality.