Automotive giant Mercedes-Benz and chipmaker Nvidia have agreed a significant, wide-ranging and long-term partnership designed to build what they are describing as “smartphones on wheels”. (See video below.)
Nvidia, which already has a leading position in the automotive market, says it is building the chips and supercomputers that the new Mercs will require.
And Mercedes-Benz says it is busy building the operating system the newly designed cars will run.
The new concept has a lot of similarities with smartphones in that the car’s operating system can be updated and apps can be installed into it.
Mercedes-Benz and Nvidia say this will create a “revolutionary in-vehicle computing system and AI computing infrastructure”.
Starting in 2024, this will be rolled out across the fleet of next-generation Mercedes-Benz vehicles, enabling them with upgradable automated driving functions.
Working together, the companies plan to develop the most sophisticated and advanced computing architecture ever deployed in an automobile.
The new software-defined architecture will be built on Nvidia Drive platform and will be standard in Mercedes-Benz’ next-generation fleet, enabling state-of-the-art automated driving functionalities.
A primary feature will be the ability to automate driving of regular routes from address to address. In addition, there will be numerous future safety and convenience applications.
Customers will be able to purchase and add capabilities, software applications and subscription services through over-the-air software updates during the life of the car.
Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of Nvidia, says: “We are excited to work with Mercedes-Benz. It’s the perfect partner for us given its long record of innovation and our strong technical relationship.
“It’s clear from our extensive discussions with Ola and his team, that we share a common vision of the automobile of the future.
“Together, we’re going to revolutionize the car ownership experience, making the vehicle software programmable and continuously upgradeable via over the air updates.
“Every future Mercedes-Benz with the Nvidia Drive system will come with a team of expert AI and software engineers continuously developing, refining and enhancing the car over its lifetime.”
Ola Källenius, chairman of Daimler and Mercedes-Benz, says: “We are delighted to be able to extend our cooperation with Nvidia.
“Jensen and I know one another well and we have spent a great deal of time talking about the goals and potential of next generation vehicle computing architecture.
“This new platform will become an efficient, centralized and software-defined system in our future Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Nvidia’s AI computing architecture will help us streamline our journey towards autonomous driving.
“These new capabilities and upgrades will be downloaded from the cloud, improving safety, increasing value and extending the joy of ownership for all Mercedes-Benz customers.”
A new computing architecture
Automated driving functions in future Mercedes-Benz cars will be powered by NVIDIA’s next generation Drive platform.
The computer system-on-chip (SoC), called Orin, is based on the recently announced NVIDIA Ampere supercomputing architecture.
The Nvidia Drive platform includes a full system software stack designed for automated driving AI applications.
Nvidia and Mercedes-Benz will jointly develop the AI and automated vehicle applications that include SAE Level 2 and 3 levels, as well as automated parking functions (up to Level 4).
The new system’s state-of-the-art capabilities will be harnessed with a total focus on safety. As the technology and regulatory framework develop, it will be possible for every car to be updated over-the-air to enable new automated driving functions. Convenience as well as other safety features will also be available.
To develop the new models, both companies will be utilizing Nvidia Drive Infrastructure solutions to enable data driven development and deep neural network development to handle the requirements of the regions and operational domains where the cars will be available.