Volvo Teams Up With Nvidia on Self-Driving Cars

The Swedish carmaker is putting together an impressive team of tech companies to help it develop autonomous vehicles.

Volvo

Like most other companies developing self-driving cars, Volvo doesn't want to go it alone. The Swedish automaker is partnering with Nvidia to develop hardware for self-driving cars, along with two other tech companies.

Nvidia, which also recently inked a deal to supply autonomous car hardware to Toyota, will join an existing alliance between Volvo, Autoliv, and Zenuity. All three companies will use Nvidia's autonomous-car computing platform, with Autoliv and Zenuity developing their own software to run on it, according to a Volvo press release.

Zenuity is a recently-formed joint venture of Volvo and Autoliv, primarily known as a supplier of safety equipment. Zenuity-developed software will be used in future Volvo self-driving cars, but Autoliv will also be allowed to sell the software to third parties. The alliance is one of many in what has become an emerging trend that has seen automakers and tech companies develop a complex web of self-driving car partnerships.

One of the goals of the Nvidia collaboration will be to develop some level of artificial intelligence, which has become a common buzzword in the self-driving car field. Autonomous cars will need to be able to "think" in order to identify potential hazards and deal with them, according to Volvo. Most development of self-driving cars to this point has relied on programming responses to given situations—but, like human drivers, autonomous cars will need to adapt to the unpredictable real world.

Volvo wants to put Level 4 autonomous cars on sale by 2021. That means cars will be able to drive themselves nearly all of the time, but will still have backup manual controls, and may require humans to take over in certain situations. The top of the autonomy pyramid is Level 5, where cars drive themselves 100 percent of the time, with no provision for human drivers.