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Continental and NVIDIA partnering on autonomous vehicle systems; market introduction in 2021

NVIDIA and Continental are partnering to create AI (artificial intelligence) self-driving vehicle systems built on the NVIDIA DRIVE platform, with a planned market introduction starting in 2021 for Level 3 functionality.

The partnership will enable the production of AI computer systems that scale from automated Level 2 features through full Level 5 self-driving capabilities, where the vehicle has no steering wheel or pedals.

Dedicated engineering teams from each company will work together to develop self-driving solutions based on the NVIDIA DRIVE platform—which includes NVIDIA DRIVE Xavier, the world’s highest performance system-on-a-chip, as well as the NVIDIA DRIVE OS (operating system) and DRIVE AV (autonomous vehicle) software stacks. (Earlier post.)

The solutions will utilize Continental’s experience in system and software engineering for ASIL-D rated safety—the highest rating level—and integrate a range of Continental sensor technologies, including radar, camera and high-resolution 3D LiDAR.

The vehicle of the future will be a sensing, planning and acting computer on wheels. The complexity of autonomous driving requires nothing less than the full computational horsepower of an AI supercomputer. Together with the performance and flexibility of NVIDIA’s AI self-driving solution, from the cloud to the car we will achieve new levels of safety, comfort and personalization for future vehicles.

—Dr. Elmar Degenhart, CEO of Continental

As the brain of the Continental system, NVIDIA DRIVE Xavier can deliver 30 TOPS (trillion operations per second) for deep learning, while consuming only 30 watts of energy. This unprecedented level of performance is necessary to handle the massive amount of data processing that self-driving vehicles must perform. These include running deep neural networks to sense surroundings, understand the environment, localize the vehicle on an HD map, predict the behavior and position of other objects, compute vehicle dynamics, and plan a safe path forward.

Continental and NVIDIA will initially develop highly automated driving features, including 360-degree perception and automatic lane changing on highways, plus the ability to merge in traffic. In addition, the system will integrate HD maps, enabling vehicles to localize themselves and provide mapping updates.

Continental’s expertise in advanced driver assistance systems integrates multi-function cameras, fish-eye cameras with surround view, short- and long-range radar sensors, high-resolution 3D lidar technologies, as well as central control units for assisted and automated driving. In 2016, Continental’s sales of advanced driver assistance systems exceeded €1.2 billion (US$1.5 billion) and the company expects it to grow to €2.5 billion (US$3.1 billion) by 2020.

Partnering with NVIDIA will enable Continental to advance beyond its leadership position in advanced driver assistance systems, delivering a scalable range of automated and autonomous vehicle systems, from today’s NCAP requirements up to Level 5.

—Luca De Ambroggi, research and analyst director at IHS Markit

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