Three Wheeling: Startup Faction Develops Affordable Tri-Wheel AVs on NVIDIA DRIVE

The NVIDIA Inception member’s electric, autonomous vehicles are purpose-built for micro- delivery and mobility.
by Katie Burke

Some things are easy as A, B, C. But when it comes to autonomous vehicles, the key may be in one, two, three.

Faction, a Bay Area-based startup and NVIDIA Inception member, is preparing to debut its business-to-business autonomous delivery service, accelerating its commercial deployment with three-wheel production electric vehicles purpose-built for driverless services.

In addition, the company has built its autonomous driving system on NVIDIA DRIVE AGX for robust, automotive-grade AI compute.

The demand for last-mile enterprise delivery has significantly increased over the past decade, with few signs of slowing down. The number of business-to-business parcels grew from 7 billion to 11 billion from 2019 to 2021, according to ABI Research. The firm expects this number to continue rising, to reach 75 billion in 2030.

However, with a rising labor shortage that has hit the trucking industry especially hard, it’s difficult for driver supply to meet this demand.

Faction aims to narrow this gap with affordable, production autonomous vehicles ready to hit the road this year.

Smaller Vehicles, Bigger Brains

Faction’s flagship vehicle, the D1, is built on EV maker Arcimoto’s low-cost vehicle platform. The vehicle is designed to be completely driverless, combining autonomous driving and teleoperation to navigate delivery routes.

The D1 delivery vehicle can reach speeds up to 75 miles per hour, with over 100 miles of battery range, and tote 500 pounds of cargo.

Inside the vehicle, NVIDIA DRIVE AGX delivers high-performance and energy-efficient AI compute for autonomous driving.

The centralized platform runs the redundant and diverse deep neural networks that power the vehicle’s AI capabilities, while leaving enough compute headroom to continuously add new features. It’s also automotive grade, achieving systematic safety standards such as ISO 26262 ASIL-D.

“Our goal is to deploy cost-efficient autonomous vehicles in the near term,” said Faction CEO Ain McKendrick. “We chose NVIDIA DRIVE because it’s an automotive-grade platform that meets our needs today.”

Making the Inception Connection

As a member of NVIDIA Inception, Faction taps into the latest AI technologies and expertise to create vehicles that are always at the cutting edge.

Inception supports all stages of a startup’s life cycle. NVIDIA works closely with members to provide the best technical tools, latest resources and opportunities to connect with investors.

McKendrick added that Inception has helped Faction take full advantage of the latest software tools for faster iteration and streamlined development.

Expanding Services

In addition to last-mile delivery, Faction is targeting its vehicles for the micro-mobility market.

The startup plans to next year launch single-rider vehicles that can be requested via an app. The vehicle will drive autonomously to the customer, who will then take control and manually drive it to their destination.

Faction’s single-rider shared mobility vehicle based on the ElectraMeccanica SOLO EV.

The goal is to meet single-rider demand with a cost-efficient and sustainable shared mobility offering.

By keeping its delivery and mobility vehicles in a compact package without sacrificing compute, Faction proves that three truly is a magic number.