NVIDIA is making further headway into the A.I.-driven automobile industry with the February 5 announcement of a new partnership between the premium computer chip maker and Continental. According to the new agreement, the pair plan to release Continental's Continental Autonomous Vehicle Systems to market by 2021. The overall goal of that system is to have a base platform intended for scaling and use across vehicles that operate from Level 2 automation through Level 5 self-driving capabilities. For those that may not already know, a Level 5-capable vehicle could essentially handle every driving challenge thrown at it, whether it is on a GPS recognized roadway or not. At Level 5, a vehicle would effectively no longer need a steering wheel or pedals.
With regard to the partnership and the proposed system, NVIDIA's role will be to provide the system-on-chip platform – via NVIDIA DRIVE Xavier. Continental will be bringing is vast experience in sensors and software, which comply with ASIL-D safety ratings. Those are the highest ratings possible and the technology will specifically include radar, camera sensors, and high-resolution 3D lidar systems. Xavier will be able to provide those sensors with a computing system capable of offering up to 30 trillion operations per second, in conjunction with deep learning and without using too much energy. NVIDIA claims its entire system operates on just 30 watts. As the announcement says, that will allow plenty of power for sensing and understanding a vehicle's surroundings and environment, while being able to process that information as it pertains to locality and the behavior of objects within that space. The wide array of sensors and vehicle electronics systems will also be able to help with computations and predictions about those objects movements, the dynamics of the vehicle and road conditions, and safe movement planning and execution.
Of course, as with every other endeavor in self-driving technologies over the past decade, whether or not the new partnership can actually accomplish its goals remains to be seen. The companies face relatively stiff competition in the industry and legislation passed pertaining to testing and regulating autonomous vehicles is bound to increase the level of competition further. Thankfully, there has also been a great deal of cooperation between leaders in the autonomous industry, as each new agreement pushes advances and testing further. Continental, for example, is involved in several such partnerships of its own across the entire automotive industry. So it may not be too ambitious to presume that the overall goals of this new agreement can be accomplished and provide a genuine push forward for self-driving automotive tech.