NVIDIA’s Autonomous Driving Tech Leadership a Feature at CES

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Many companies published a press release or two today to kick off CES 2024, maybe even three or four. By my count, NVIDIA has published 14. Without a doubt, NVIDIA is a tech leader, and it displays that leadership in a variety of different ways for a variety of different sectors. Regarding what we cover here on CleanTechnica, the topics were autonomous driving and electric vehicles.

First of all, to lead the news, NVIDIA announced that the hottest EV startup in China, Li Auto, had selected NVIDIA for its future cars’ central computers. In particular, Li Auto will be using the NVIDIA DRIVE Thor — revealed just in September 2022 — in what must eventually become top 20 EV models in China.

Li Auto isn’t new to NVIDIA, as it is currently using “two DRIVE Orin processors to power its assisted-driving system, AD Max, for its L-series models.” The DRIVE Orin platform is yesterday’s news now — but also today’s news, because another announcement from NVIDIA was that Xiaomi, Zeekr, and Great Wall Motor (GWM) are using Orin in their electric vehicles. The first times we reported on the DRIVE Orin was more two years ago when it was announced that Volvo Cars would use it and the XPeng G9 would use it.

Clearly, NVIDIA is a popular choice among automakers for their high-power, high-speed computing needs in new EVs and semi-autonomous driving tech. The DRIVE Orin is still carrying the show, but the DRIVE Thor is the new hot rookie for future models. “DRIVE Thor is a next-generation centralized car computer that integrates a wide range of intelligent functions into a single AI compute platform, delivering autonomous driving and parking capabilities, driver and passenger monitoring, and AI cockpit functionality.” However, even some future cars and projects are relaying on the DRIVE Orin. “GWM, among China’s leading new energy vehicle makers, has announced that it will build its self-developed, high-end intelligent-driving system, the Coffee Pilot, based on the DRIVE Orin centralized computing platform. Coffee Pilot can support parking, high-speed and urban scenes to achieve full-scenario smart navigation and assisted-driving functions without high-precision maps.”

“The transportation industry is embracing centralized compute for highly automated and autonomous driving,” said Xinzhou Wu, vice president of automotive at NVIDIA. “The AI car computer of choice for today’s intelligent fleets is NVIDIA DRIVE Orin, with automakers increasingly looking to the advanced capabilities and AI performance of its successor, NVIDIA DRIVE Thor, for their future vehicle roadmaps.”

Even the yet-to-be-unveiled first EV from tech giant Xiaomi will be leaning on NVIDIA’s tech leadership. “Xiaomi EV, the automotive arm of the technology giant, has announced its first EV, the SU7 sedan, which is built on a dual DRIVE Orin configuration for highway driving functions. Built using Xiaomi’s leading large language model for perception and decision-making, the sedan will be able to seamlessly navigate through Chinese cities, regardless of locale, administrative divisions within the country or type of road. It will come in two versions: one with a driving range of up to 415 miles on a single charge and another with a range of up to 497 miles. The SU7 will be officially launched in the first half of 2024.” If Xiaomi is putting its stamp of approval on NVIDIA’s tech for its first EV — by buying NVIDIA’s tech — then what more is needed to show NVIDIA is a core technology leader in the autonomous driving arena.

In another announcement, NVIDIA noted its work with Mercedes-Benz, Luminar, Zoox, Polestar, Lenovo, Kodiak, and others. Here are more details from NVIDIA:

  • Mercedes-Benz is kicking off CES with a press conference to announce a range of exciting software-driven features and the latest developments in the Mercedes-Benz MB.OS story, each one showcased in a range of cars, including the Concept CLA Class, which is using NVIDIA DRIVE Orin for the automated driving domain. Mercedes-Benz is also using digital twins for production with help from NVIDIA Omniverse, a platform for developing applications to design, collaborate, plan and operate manufacturing and assembly facilities. (West Hall – 4941)
  • Luminar will host a fireside chat with NVIDIA on Jan. 9 at 2 p.m. PT to discuss the state of the art of sensor processing and ongoing collaborations between the companies. In addition, Luminar will showcase the work it’s doing with NVIDIA partners Volvo Cars, Polestar, Plus and Kodiak. (West Hall – 5917 and West Plaza – WP10)
  • Ansys is demonstrating how it leverages NVIDIA Omniverse to accelerate autonomous vehicle development. Ansys AVxcelerate Sensors will be accessible within NVIDIA DRIVE Sim. (West Hall – 6500)
  • Cerence is introducing CaLLM, an automotive-specific large language model that serves as the foundation for the company’s next-gen in-car computing platform, running on NVIDIA DRIVE. (West Hall – 6627)
  • Cipia is showcasing its embedded software version of Cabin Sense, which includes both driver and occupancy monitoring and is expected to go into serial production this year. NVIDIA DRIVE is the first platform on which Cabin Sense will run commercially. (North Hall – 11022)
  • Kodiak is exhibiting an autonomous truck, which relies on NVIDIA GPUs for high-performance compute to process the enormous quantities of data it collects from its cameras, radar and lidar sensors. (West Plaza – WP10, with Luminar)
  • Lenovo is displaying its vehicle computing roadmap, featuring new products based on NVIDIA DRIVE Thor, including: Lenovo XH1, a central compute unit for advanced driver-assistance systems and smart cockpit; Lenovo AH1, a level 2++ ADAS domain controller unit; and Lenovo AD1, a level 4 autonomous driving domain controller unit. (Estiatorio Milos, Venetian Hotel)
  • Pebble, a recreational vehicle startup, is presenting its flagship product Pebble Flow, the electric semi-autonomous travel trailer powered by NVIDIA DRIVE Orin, with production starting before the end of 2024. (West Hall – 7023)
  • Polestar is showcasing Polestar 3, which is powered by the NVIDIA DRIVE Orin central core computer. (West Hall – 5917 with Luminar and Central Plaza – CP1 with Google)
  • Zoox is showcasing the latest generation of its purpose-built robotaxi, which leverages NVIDIA technology, and is offering CES attendees the opportunity to join its early-bird waitlist for its autonomous ride-hailing service. (West Hall – 7228)

What’s next from NVIDIA? Which automakers or automaker-adjacent companies will sign an agreement with NVIDIA next? We’ll see.

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