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Mercedes takes major step towards autonomy with Nvidia tie-up

by Graham Hope
Article ImageNvidia’s DRIVE technology platform will be included as standard on all Mercs from 2024

Mercedes-Benz and Nvidia have announced a partnership which they claim will lead to the creation the most advanced computing architecture ever seen in a car.

The new hardware and software will be rolled out across the next generation of Mercedes vehicles to give them more sophisticated and extensive automated driving capabilities, starting from 2024.

The deal is seen by industry analysts as a major step forward in Mercedes’ attempt to regain some of the ground it has lost to the likes of Tesla in autonomous capabilities.

Playing with the big boys

The new architecture will be based on Nvidia’s DRIVE autonomous vehicle development platform and fitted as standard on the next-generation Mercedes models.

Among the primary benefits the system is claimed to offer is the capability to automate driving on regular routes, from address to address – so, for example, the daily commute.

A variety of safety and convenience applications and features are also promised; Mercedes customers will be able to add software and subscription services through the lifetime of the car via over-the-air updates and app purchases.

The heart of the platform, a System-on-Chip called Orin, will be based on Nvidia’s recently announced Ampere architecture.

The Nvidia DRIVE platform includes a full software stack designed for AI-based automated driving applications. Nvidia will work with Mercedes on Level 2 and 3 applications, plus automated parking functions (up to Level 4).

Both companies will use DRIVE to inform data-driven development and deep neural network design, in order to ensure the cars are compatible with the requirements of different geographic regions.

Ola Källenius, chairman of the board at Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, said the partnership heralds a significant step forward for Mercedes: “The 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.”

Jen-Hsun ‘Jensen’ Huang, founder and CEO of Nvidia, added: “Mercedes-Benz is the perfect partner for us given its long record of innovation and our strong technical relationship.

It’s clear that we share a common vision of the automobile of the future. Together we are 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.”

The news comes just days after Mercedes-Benz and BMW confirmed they were calling time on their long-term plan to develop next-generation automated driving tech together.

The break-up was reportedly amicable, but was accompanied by a statement which said: “Both sides concluded that, in view of the expense involved in creating a shared technology platform, as well as current business and economic conditions, the timing is not right for successful implementation of the cooperation.”

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