Volvo will use NVIDIA’s supercomputer to power its self-driving cars in 2021

NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang
Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang. NVIDIA/Youtube

Nvidia announced its third automotive partnership this year as it looks to beat competitors like Intel in the race to power self-driving cars.

Nvidia will install its Drive PX supercomputer system in Volvo cars by 2021, Nvidia CEO and founder Jensen Huang said during Automobil Elektronik Kongress, a conference in Germany, Monday night pacific time. The company also boasts partnerships with Audi, Baidu, Tesla, and Toyota.

The move further positions Nvidia to take on Intel, which is co-developing the autonomous drive platform for BMW. Intel bought autonomous-drive company Mobileye for $US15.3 billion in March.

Nvidia came to prominence two decades ago as a supplier of 3D graphics processing chips for the video game industry.

But the company has slowly worked its way into the auto industry, first by powering the graphics for in-vehicle display systems, like Tesla’s massive 17-inch touchscreen. Nvidia is now considered a key player developing the “brains” of self-driving cars.

The Drive PX uses artificial intelligence to process massive amounts of data so self-driving cars can react to difficult driving scenarios in a fraction of a second.

“The ability for our systems to now be able to sense what’s going on around car, to interpret it, to understand it, and take action in a 30th of a second is what is enabling autonomous vehicles on the road today,” Danny Shapiro, Nvidia’s senior director of automotive, previously told Business Insider.

Volvo XC90
The Volvo XC90. Bryan Logan/Business Insider

Volvo has used Nvidia’s supercomputer for its Drive Me program — a 2017 trial that allows 100 people in Sweden to test self-driving, Volvo XC90 SUVs. Now Volvo will use the Drive PX in commercial vehicles in 2021.

Volvo is also working with Autoliv, a Swedish manufacturer of auto safety systems, to develop its autonomous driving platform.

Nvidia also announced partnerships with Audi and Toyota this year.

Tesla currently uses the Drive PX 2, Nvidia’s next-generation computing system, in its Model S and Model X vehicles.

The Drive PX 2, which will also power Tesla’s Model 3 when it launches in July, is the brain running Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot system. It will also power the self-driving capabilities in Tesla vehicles in the future.

German auto supplier ZF said at CES that it will run its ProAI self-driving system on Nvidia’s PX 2 platform in commercial vehicles in 2020.

“I think what’s significant about this announcement is we see a full range of self-driving systems driven from the Nvidia drive architecture,” Shapiro said on a Monday call with journalists. “The full power of Drive PX is being brought to bear across all segments of the autonomous vehicle market.”

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