Let’s Go Driverless: Daimler, Bosch Select NVIDIA DRIVE for Robotaxi Fleets

Imagine summoning a driverless car from your smartphone: Fully autonomous vehicles based on DRIVE Pegasus AI supercomputer will usher in a new era of mobility-as-a-service.
by Danny Shapiro

Press a button on your smartphone and go. Daimler, Bosch and NVIDIA have joined forces to bring fully automated and driverless vehicles to city streets, and the effects will be felt far beyond the way we drive.

While the world’s billion cars travel 10 trillion miles per year, most of the time these vehicles are sitting idle, taking up valuable real estate while parked. And when driven, they’re often stuck on congested roadways. Mobility services will solve these issues plaguing urban areas, capture underutilized capacity and revolutionize the way we travel.

All over the globe we are seeing a rapid adoption of new mobility services from companies like Uber, Lyft, Didi and Ola. But now the limited availability of drivers threatens their continued growth.

The answer is the driverless car — a vehicle rich with sensors, powered by an extremely energy-efficient supercomputer and running AI software that acts as a virtual driver.

The collaboration of Daimler, Bosch and NVIDIA, announced Tuesday, promises to unleash what auto industry insiders call Level 4 and Level 5 autonomy — cars that can drive themselves.

The benefits of mobility services built on autonomous vehicles are enormous. These AI-infused vehicles will improve traffic flow, enhance safety and offer greater access to mobility. In addition, analysts predict it will cost a mere 17 cents a mile to ride in a driverless car you can summon anytime. And commuters will be able to spend their drive to work actually working, recapturing an estimated $99 billion worth of lost productivity each year.

Driving the convenience of transportation up, and costs down, is a huge opportunity. By 2030, driverless vehicles and services will be a $1 trillion industry, according to KPMG.

To reap these benefits, the great automotive brands will need to weave the latest technology into everything they do. And NVIDIA DRIVE, our AV computing platform, promises to help them stitch all the breakthroughs of our time — deep learning, sensor fusion, image recognition, cloud computing and more — into this fabric.

Our collaboration with Daimler and Bosch will unite each company’s strengths. NVIDIA brings leadership in AI and self-driving platforms. Bosch, the world’s largest tier 1 automotive supplier, brings its hardware and system expertise. Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler brings total vehicle expertise and a global brand that’s synonymous with safety and quality.

Street Smarts Needed

Together, we’re tackling an enormous challenge. Pedestrians, bicyclists, traffic lights and other vehicles make navigating congested urban streets stressful for even the best human drivers.

Demand for computational horsepower in this chaotic, unstructured environment adds up fast. Just a single video camera generates 100 gigabytes of data per kilometer, according to Bosch.

Now imagine a fully automated vehicle or robotaxi with a suite of sensors wrapped around the car: high-resolution camera, lidar and radar that are configured to sense objects from afar, combined with diverse sensors that are specialized for seeing color, measuring distance and detecting motion across a wide range of conditions.

Together, these systems provide levels of diversity to increase safety and redundancy to provide backup in case of failure. However, this vast quantity of information needs to be deciphered, processed and put to work by multiple layers of neural networks almost instantaneously.

NVIDIA DRIVE delivers the high-performance required to simultaneously run the wide array of diverse deep neural networks needed to safely driving through urban environments.
NVIDIA DRIVE delivers the high performance required to simultaneously run the wide array of diverse deep neural networks needed to safely driving through urban environments.

A massive amount of computing performance is required to run the dozens of complex algorithms concurrently, executing within milliseconds so that the car can navigate safely and comfortably.

Daimler and Bosch Select DRIVE Pegasus

NVIDIA DRIVE Pegasus is the AI supercomputer designed specifically for autonomous vehicles, delivering 320 TOPS (trillions of operations per second) to handle these diverse and redundant algorithms. At just the size of a license plate, it has the performance equivalent to six synchronized deskside workstations.

This is the most energy-efficient supercomputer ever created — performing 1 trillion operations per watt. By minimizing the amount of energy consumed, we can translate that directly to increased operating range.

Pegasus is architected for safety, as well as performance. This automotive-grade, functional safety production solution uses two NVIDIA Xavier SoCs and two of our next-generation GPUs designed for AI and vision processing. This co-designed hardware and software platform is created to achieve ASIL-D ISO 26262, the industry’s highest level of automotive functional safety. Even when a fault is detected, the system will still operate.

From the Car to the Cloud

NVIDIA AV solutions go beyond what can be put on wheels. NVIDIA DGX AI supercomputers for the data center are used to train the deep neural nets that enable a vehicle to deliver superhuman levels of perception. The new DGX-2, with its two petaflops of performance, enables deep learning training in a fraction of the time, space, energy and cost of CPU servers.

Once trained on powerful GPU-based servers, the NVIDIA DRIVE Constellation AV simulator can be utilized to test and validate the complete software “stack” that will ultimately be placed inside the vehicle. This high-performance software stack includes every aspect of piloting an autonomous vehicle, from object detection through deep learning and computer vision, to map localization and path planning, and it all runs on DRIVE Pegasus.

In the years to come, DRIVE Pegasus will be key to helping automakers meet a surge in demand. The mobility-as-a-service industry will purchase more than 10 million cars in 2040, up from 300,000 in 2017, market research firm IHS Markit projects.

“The partnership with Bosch and Daimler illustrates that the NVIDIA DRIVE Pegasus architecture solves the critical needs of automakers as they tackle the challenge of automated driving,” said Luca De Ambroggi, senior research director for artificial intelligence at IHS Markit. “The combination of NVIDIA’s AI silicon, software, integrated platforms and tools for simulation and validation adds value for AV development.”

A Thriving Ecosystem for Mobility-as-a-Service

The NVIDIA DRIVE ecosystem continues to expand in all areas of autonomous driving, from robotaxis to trucking to delivery vehicles, as more than 370 companies have already adopted the DRIVE platform. And now our work with Daimler and Bosch will create innovative new driverless vehicles and services that will do more than just transform our streets, they’ll transform our lives.