Continental and Nvidia are teaming up on a new computing platform for self-driving cars. The two companies hope to create a complete autonomous-driving system that can be marketed to automakers.
Nvidia will contribute computers and software for the project, while Continental will supply the sensors, including cameras, radar, and lidar. The self-driving car platform will be based on Nvidia's new Xavier computer, which was unveiled at CES 2018. Nvidia claims Xavier has more computing power than its predecessors, and that it can perform all of the functions needed to make an autonomous car work.
Continental and Nvidia plan to offer capabilities ranging from SAE Level 2 to Level 5. That means everything from driver-assist systems to full autonomy without the need for manual controls.
Both companies are investing heavily in self-driving cars. Continental has built and tested its own autonomous prototypes, and its stake in digital mapping company Here could provide valuable map data. Nvidia has a long list of customers that includes Uber, Volvo, Volkswagen, and Roborace. It's also collaborating with Baidu and ZF on autonomous-car testing in China.
While many automakers take pride in developing their own self-driving cars, Nvidia and Continental may offer a faster, cheaper way to autonomous driving. A complete system that can be grafted onto an automaker's production models could speed up deployment of autonomous cars. It could also help automakers distance themselves from liability claims when a self-driving car crashes. Lawyers will be quick to point out that their clients only built the car, not the hardware and software that made it autonomous.