Nvidia Inc. unveiled more partnerships in the hot self-driving car arena Tuesday, including an unusual joint venture between Swedish auto maker Volvo and one of its suppliers, in its quest to become the standard technology inside all self-driving cars in the future.
At a big auto conference in Germany, Nvidia
CEO Jensen Huang announced the company’s latest partnerships in a keynote speech, including participation in a new joint venture, Zenuity, formed by Volvo and its supplier Autoliv
that will develop self-driving car software. Zenuity will use Nvidia’s core technology platform as the foundation for its software for self-driving cars that may be resold to other auto makers.
Nvidia’s latest deal with Volvo builds on its previous deal, in which its supercomputer-in-a-box technology is the core for the semiautonomous feature on the Volvo S90.
“Our work can be leveraged by other auto makers,” Danny Shapiro, senior director of automotive at Nvidia, told reporters in a briefing. “You are starting to see in the industry these types of collaborations.” He added that Nvidia’s system is “fully programmable” and other car makers will also have ability to write new software or add new features to the car as they change their strategy.
Volvo AB, which is owned by Chinese company Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, said that commercial self-driving cars built using Nvidia’s Drive PX car computing platform are planned for sale in 2021. Nvidia’s Drive PX system is an artificial-intelligence-based system that can range from a small, palm-sized system for cruise-control capabilities to a full-on supercomputer that enables a full 360-degree awareness of a vehicle’s surroundings with a high-definition map, adjusting to changing circumstances, for self-driving cars.
“One interesting aspect is that it is not exclusive to Volvo,” said Kevin Krewell, principal analyst at Tirias Research. “As the Volvo platform emerges, there could be opportunities for it to go to other manufacturers that don’t have the capability to build their own autonomous cars and expand the market.”
Nvidia also said it has formed partnerships with two German companies, ZF Friedrichshafen AG, an auto chassis supplier, and Hella, a supplier of camera perception software and sensor technologies, to provide more pieces of the total car. Nvidia’s Drive PX platform will form the basis of a self-driving system that integrates front cameras and radar developed by ZF and Hella to include safety certification for mass deployment.
The Santa Clara, Calif.,-based chip maker clearly is taking a page from Intel Corp.
which formed alliances throughout the PC industry — from the computer makers to software giants like Microsoft — to set technology standards used by all and becoming the core processing chip at the heart of most PCs and server computers around the world. Nvidia said that in addition to selling its total systems to the car makers, the cars themselves will become a revenue source.