Swedish automaker Volvo has announced that it’s partnering with Nvidia to bring autonomous driving features to its entire fleet of next-generation road cars by the early 2020s.
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This may not sound like a big deal at first. Nvidia has previously announced other automotive partners that have taken up its various Nvidia Drive systems before. It’s also previously announced that Volvo would be using Nvidia Drive technology to develop Level 4 automated driving systems in the future. But what makes this announcement stand out is that Volvo is putting Nvidia’s systems in production cars.
What’s more, this isn’t just going in one special model of Volvo, its coming to its entire fleet of new vehicles. It’s going to be the beating heart of the systems that operate Volvo’s autonomous features and assists.
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Slated as a “Level 2+” system, instead of simply a Level 2 automated vehicle, both Nvidia and Volvo are hoping to show the robustness of the platform. For them, it means that it’s not quite at the Level 3 handoff stage between car and human, but it outperforms any other Level 2-like driver assist package out there right now.
“Autopilot done right will bring a jump in safety and driving comfort. Your car will drive you and constantly watch out for you,” explained Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of Nvidia. “Making this possible will require sensor architecture, AI software, computing and safety technology like nothing the world has ever made.
“As a world leader in safety technology and innovation, Volvo understands there is a direct connection between safety, comfort and the computing capability inside the vehicle.”
To run the autonomous Level 2 diver assist features, Volvo has selected Nvidia’s Drive AGX Xavier computer. While Xavier is easily more than capable for tasks above and beyond the systems Volvo will implement it for, Volvo wants to ensure it’s the safest system on the market right now, and the extra grunt of Nvidia’s AGX boards makes sure that’s the case.
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Because Nvidia’s Drive platforms are scalable, it’s also an opportunity for Volvo to test the hardware before they then really start to push what it’s capable of as part of its Level 4 autonomous driving push set for later in the 2020s.
“A successful launch of autonomous drive will require an enormous amount of computing power, as well as constant advances in artificial intelligence,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo Cars. “Our agreement with NVIDIA is an important piece of that puzzle and helps us to safely introduce fully autonomous Volvo cars to our customers.”
The announcement comes as Nvidia formally launches its AGX developer kit. This means that institutions working on driverless cars and driverless assistance technologies can now get an off-the-shelf solution and start experimenting and advancing what’s possible with autonomous vehicles without the huge R&D budgets or massive computer systems previously required.