Brains For Autonomous Driving
Nvidia made its name with graphics cards for PCs â but in the last few years the company has become an important partner for the automotive industry. Porsche Engineering finds out the key to Nvidiaâs success, why it is a leader in the AI ââfield and its vision for the future.
Drivers who are guided by a navigations system will be familiar with a problem: if the lanes of a road are close together, the system cannot recognise which lane the vehicle is in. GPS is not precise enough for this â it can only determine the position to within two to 10 metres â but Porsche Engineering is working on a system that uses artificial intelligence to calculate a more precise position from GPS data. âThis makes it possible, for example, to identify the ideal line on a race track,â says Dr. Joachim Schaper, Senior Manager of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data at Porsche Engineering. The necessary calculations can be performed in the vehicle itself, in a compact computer equipped with graphics processing units . âThis brings AI functionality to the vehicle,â says Schaper.
The Nvidia headquarters in Santa Clara: around 13,800 people work for the California-based company.
Ai Researchers As New Group Of Customers
Technology for autonomous driving: Nividia’s Drive-AGX Pegasus hardware enables robotics, among other things. The company also trains neural networks in its own data centres.
In the early 2010s, Nvidia noticed that a completely new group of customers had appeared on the scene who were not interested in computer games: AI researchers. Word had spread in the scientific community that GPUs were perfectly suited for complex calculations in the field of machine learning. If, for example, an AI algorithm is to be trained, GPUs that perform computing steps in a highly parallel fashion are clearly superior to conventional sequential processors and can significantly reduce computing times. GPUs quickly developed into the workhorses of AI research.
Nvidia recognised the opportunity earlier than the competition and brought the first hardware optimised for AI to the market in 2015. The company immediately focused on the automotive sector: the companyâs first computing platform for use in cars was presented under the label Nvidia Drive. The PX 1 was able to process images from 12 connected cameras and simultaneously execute programmes for collision avoidance or driver monitoring. It had the computing power of more than 100 notebooks. Several manufacturers used the platform to bring the first prototypes of autonomous vehicles to the road.
These Two Companies Are Making Autonomous Cars Safer On The Road
An autonomous car controlled by an Nvidia DRIVE PX 2 AI car computing platform drives passengers… along a course during CES International, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, in Las Vegas. photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
At the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2019, Nvidiaannounced they would bring artificial intelligence-powered Level 2+ autonomous driving and smart cockpits to mainstream cars in 2020 through their Nvidia Drive Autopilot. The company says they see industry support from manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz and Volvo to major auto suppliers like ZF and Continental for the software-defined car which contributes to the build-out of the autonomous car market.
DRIVE AutoPilot is part of the Nvidia Drive platform. OEMs and auto manufacturers use the platform to build autonomous vehicle solutions that increase road safety and reduce driver fatigue and stress on long drives or in stop-and-go traffic. Nvidia’s Level 2+ functionality includes multiple AI technology including autonomous driving perception and an AI-capable cockpit which the company says surpasses todays ADAS offerings in performance, functionality, and road safety.
Danny Shapiro, senior director automotive of Nvidia says that looking beyond Level 2+ automated driving, Nvidia believes the next generation of transportation is autonomous. “Level 2+ functionality will become a must-have for every vehicle,” added Shapiro.
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A Car Brain For Overcoming Challenges
Driverless vehicles perceive the environment using on-board sensors such as cameras, Lidar, millimeter-wave radars, and ultrasonic sensors. They make decisions based on data to avoid collisions and plan routes by predicting the trajectories of the driverless vehicle, other vehicles, and pedestrians at future points in time.
After a path is planned, the vehicle must then be controlled so that it follows the desired trajectory. This involves processes such as sensor environment awareness, high-precision maps and GPS, V2X communication, the integration of multiple data sources, decision-making and planning algorithm calculations, electronic control, and the execution of calculation results.
These processes call for a powerful brain that can carry out real-time analysis, process large amounts of data, and perform complex logic operations, which in turn place extremely high requirements on computing power. The computing power required for each level of self-driving vehicle is generally held to be as follows: less than 10 TOPS for L2, 30 to 60 TOPS for L3, more than 100 TOPS for L4, and predictions of around 1,000 TOPS for L5. Existing platforms are only capable of meeting some requirements of L3 and L4 automation.
High cost: A car model claiming to provide L3 autonomous driving costs approximately US$50,000 to US$80,000, with the autonomous driving feature alone costing about US$8,000. And the ability to offer higher levels of automated driving will cost even more.
Top 7 Autonomous Vehicle Stocks To Buy Now
Check these leaders in autonomous vehicles.
Autonomous vehicle technology is one of a handful of tech fields that is generally considered a cant-miss long-term investment. The race to get the first fully autonomous vehicle on the market has been heating up in the past couple of years, and multiple companies have targeted 2020 and 2021 as potential launch dates for autonomous vehicle services. The autonomous vehicle market is still wide open, and investors who bet on the early market leaders could be handsomely rewarded. Navigant Research recently ranked these seven companies as the autonomous vehicle technology leaders based on 10 different criteria, including product quality/reliability and technological capability.
The first company to roll out a Level 5 fully autonomous vehicle may not be a traditional automaker. Navigant has ranked Alphabet subsidiary Waymo as the leader in autonomous vehicle technology today. Waymo is just a small portion of Alphabets business. But a recent round of fundraising reportedly valued Waymo at more than $30 billion, roughly 50% higher than the total market cap of Ford Motor Co. . Waymo One is already offering self-driving ride services to Phoenix residents, but all rides include a human safety driver behind the wheel. Waymo has logged 20 million test miles on public roads in 25 different cities.
Ford Motor Co.
General Motors Co.
Top autonomous vehicle stocks to buy now:
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Another Robotaxi Company Wins
Plenty of other companies are pursuing the same basic strategy as Waymobuilding and operating a robotaxi fleet. These include:
If Waymo falters, I think it’s most likely to be on business execution: Waymo continues to have industry-leading technology but fails to expand rapidly enough to take full advantage of it. Running a taxi service with a few hundred vehicles in one metro area is a very different proposition from running a taxi service with hundreds of thousands of vehicles in dozens of cities.
Automaker-backed companies like Cruise, Argo, and Motional might have a greater ability to rapidly scale up production of self-driving vehicles. Amazon obviously has a lot of experience with large-scale logistical problems. And Aurora has a close relationship with Uber, which might provide Aurora with preferential access to its ride-hailing network.
People And Startups To Follow
- : The UX Design lead for the Google driverless car project, Jenny has presented and the intricacies of designing for a completely new transportation medium.
- : The IEEE’s blog on sensors and driverless cars.
- Cruise: Created by one of Twitch’s co-founders, Cruise allows you to retrofit an existing car for autonomous highway driving.
- Peloton Technology: Building connected and driverless trucks. Heres a video demonstrating their vision:
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Autonomous Trucks Has A Better Chance Of Becoming A Reality Than Cars
Most of the autonomous vehicle companies are planning to launch robotaxi services. Over the years, one thing that the industry and experts realized is that driverless taxi is a tough market to crack. The involvement of urban areas makes the challenge more complex for self-driving cars. Further, taxis are time bound as customers often are in hurry and if self-driving failed to reach the destination in time, it would surely lose customer attraction.
On the other hand, trucks are mostly used for cargo deliveries and use highways. Trucks normally restrict themselves to stay on a lane and can make smart and necessary decisions on highways. Also, the highways are the same unlike the urban environment of different cities, so there wont a need for pilot testing for different cities highways. And most importantly, they are not time-bound as taxis so, there would no 1-star rating from the customer side.
The State Of The Self
by Timothy B. Lee – Apr 19, 2021 11:00 am UTC
The self-driving technology industry is in a strange state right now. A number of companies have been pouring millions of dollars into self-driving technology for years, and many of them have prototype self-driving vehicles that seem to work.
Yet I know of only one companyWaymothat has launched a fully driverless commercial taxi service. And I only know of one companyNurothat’s running a driverless commercial delivery service on public roads. You’d expect these companies to be capitalizing on their early leads by expanding rapidly, but neither seems to be doing that.
Meanwhile, several other players, including Cruise and Mobileye, say they’re planning to launch large-scale commercial services by 2023. But plenty of self-driving companies have blown past self-imposed launch deadlines in the past, so it’s not clear if that will actually happen.
In short, predicting what the next couple of years will bring is a challenge. So rather than offering a single prediction, here are eight: I’ve broken down the future into eight possible scenarios, each with a rough probability. Hopefully, breaking things down this way offers a good overview of the many different strategies being pursued by self-driving companies today. A decade from now, we’ll be able to look back and say which companies or approaches were on the right track. For now, we can only guess.
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Better Access And Mode Of Transportation
For those who cannot or choose not to drive, self-driving cars could be a safe and reliable mode of transportation. Those with a disability or the elderly would be able to get into a self-driving car without putting others at risk.
Cities with limited public transit coverage would also benefit from self-driving cars. Self-driving cars can easily reach areas where infrastructure is lacking.
Tesla Vs The Rest Of The Field
It is worth noting that there is a significant debate in the world of autonomous vehicle development between Tesla and other self-driving car manufacturers. Industry leaders like Waymo and pretty much everybody else is using LiDAR sensors, except for Tesla. They are using a system of cameras, called Hydranet, which is a network of eight cameras all over the vehicle and the AI system stitches together all of the images to allow the vehicle to see the road and its surroundings. One of the reasons Tesla is avoiding LiDAR is because it is a bulky object that sits on the roof of the car and detracts from the aesthetics of the vehicle itself. Interestingly enough, a recent Forbes article says that even Tesla may have come around to LiDAR, but we will have to wait and see.
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Terminology And Safety Considerations
Modern vehicles provide features such as keeping the car within its lane, speed controls, or emergency braking. Those features alone are just considered as driver assistance technologies because they still require a human driver control while fully automated vehicles drive themselves without human driver input.
According to Fortune, some newer vehicles’ technology namesâsuch as AutonoDrive, PilotAssist, Full-Self Driving or DrivePilotâmight confuse the driver, who may believe no driver input is expected when in fact the driver needs to remain involved in the driving task. According to the BBC, confusion between those concepts leads to deaths.
For this reason, some organizations such as the AAA try to provide standardized naming conventions for features such as ALKS which aim to have capacity to manage the driving task, but which are not yet approved to be an automated vehicles in any countries. The Association of British Insurers considers the usage of the word autonomous in marketing for modern cars to be dangerous because car ads make motorists think ‘autonomous’ and ‘autopilot’ mean a vehicle can drive itself when they still rely on the driver to ensure safety. Technology alone still is not able to drive the car.
Legal Status In The United States
In the United States, a non-signatory country to the Vienna Convention, state vehicle codes generally do not envisageâbut do not necessarily prohibitâhighly automated vehicles as of 2012. To clarify the legal status of and otherwise regulate such vehicles, several states have enacted or are considering specific laws. By 2016, seven states , along with the District of Columbia, have enacted laws for automated vehicles. Incidents such as the first fatal accident by Tesla’s Autopilot system have led to discussion about revising laws and standards for automated cars.
In September 2016, the US National Economic Council and US Department of Transportation released the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy, which are standards that describe how automated vehicles should react if their technology fails, how to protect passenger privacy, and how riders should be protected in the event of an accident. The new federal guidelines are meant to avoid a patchwork of state laws, while avoiding being so overbearing as to stifle innovation. Since then, USDOT has released multiple updates:
- Automated Driving Systems: A Vision for Safety 2.0
- Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0
- Ensuring American Leadership in Automated Vehicle Technologies: Automated Vehicles 4.0
In April 2012, Florida became the second state to allow the testing of automated cars on public roads.
- Washington, DC
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Companies Race To Create Sensors For Self
To drive a car, you need to see the world around you. But computers are blind, so autonomous cars must rely on other ways to perceive their surroundings. Lidar sensors, a laser form of radar, have emerged as a powerful way for robot cars to navigate.
Lidar is so crucial to the self-driving industry that dozens of companies have sprung up in the past year to develop the sensors. It stands at the heart of the Waymo vs. Uber lawsuit, with Waymo, the self-driving unit of Google parent Alphabet, alleging that ride-hailing company Uber stole its lidar designs, potentially costing it billions.
Lidar helps cars see very fine-grained information about what the world looks like, said Raj Rajkumar, a Carnegie Mellon University professor and a leading autonomous-vehicles researcher.
Lidar can do the job today. Computer vision cant, said Brad Templeton, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who was an early strategy and engineering consultant on Googles self-driving project. Someday, computer vision will be good enough. Someday, lidar will be much cheaper. That someday for lidar is certain and soon. The someday for cameras is unknown.
For now, the number of self-driving cars in the world is in the hundreds. Lidar sensors were a $230 million market last year, but as autonomous cars go mainstream, automotive lidar sales worldwide should hit $2.5 billion by 2026, according to IHS Markit.
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Car Companies Are Focusing On Evs Than Avs
Unlike tech companies, Automakers need car sales to stay in the game. And knowing that a fully autonomous vehicle is years away, car companies are focusing on the next big thing in the automotive industry, i.e. EV or Electric Vehicle. With the success of Tesla and other EV startups, traditional automakers are finally ready to big their Electric vehicles in the market.
These automotive companies are focusing intensely on EVs rather than AVs which makes total sense considering their business model. Not just for automakers, EVs are the bigger necessity compare to AVs even for the general public.
With the global temperature rising every year, carbon consumption is increasing, and the amount of fuel is decreasing, electric vehicles do not just save the environment but the general public money as well. Fuel and gas price has surged throughout the world, especially in Asia. And the EVs are the only solution to this problem.
Automotive companies have already shared their motives to invest billions in EVs along with their mission to make their vehicles carbon neutral. Some of them even launched EVs too.
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Anticipated Launch Of Cars
Between manually driven vehicles and fully autonomous vehicles , there are a variety of vehicle types that can be described to have some degree of automation. These are collectively known as semi-automated vehicles. As it could be a while before the technology and infrastructure are developed for full automation, it is likely that vehicles will have increasing levels of automation. These semi-automated vehicles could potentially harness many of the advantages of fully automated vehicles, while still keeping the driver in charge of the vehicle.