Valet All Day: NVIDIA Partner Momenta Showcases Driverless Parking System and Highway Pilot

Startup leverages the high performance of NVIDIA DRIVE for autonomous driving technology.
by Katie Burke

Self-driving technology holds the potential to greatly improve traffic safety and efficiency. It can also make you feel like a VIP everywhere you go.

Momenta, a self-driving startup based in Suzhou and Beijing, recently showcased its Mpilot autonomous parking and highway driving system during a test drive in Suzhou. The technology makes parking a breeze. Drivers simply pull up to their destination, exit the vehicle and, using a smartphone app connected to the car, let the AI valet do the rest.

Mpilot Parking relies on high-definition maps, as well as cameras and ultrasonic sensors running on NVIDIA DRIVE, to identify available parking spaces and seamlessly navigate parking structures packed with cars and pedestrians. The high performance and energy efficiency of the DRIVE platform enables Momenta to run these automated systems on one unified architecture.

In terms of time — and patience — parking is one of the most costly aspects of driving. This problem is especially apparent in China, where more than 180 million vehicles contend with a shortage of 50 million parking spaces, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

And globally, finding a spot doesn’t get much easier. In urban centers around the world, an estimated 30 percent of vehicles are searching for parking at any time. The average driver in New York, wastes 107 hours to find parking each year — that’s two full work weeks spent circling the block, according to traffic analytics company Inrix.

With autonomous parking systems like Mpilot Parking, the most stressful part of a trip can become the easiest: locating and pulling into a spot happens at the push of a button.

Under the Hood of Mpilot Parking

While fully autonomous vehicles are still under development, low-speed, geo-fenced operations like parking lots and garages can leverage this technology for self-driving features in the near term.

The system engages once the driver has pulled up to their desired location, exits the vehicle and activates Mpilot Parking with their smartphone. From there, the vehicle can safely drive itself to an open parking spot.

With frequent jaywalking, changing road grades and cars unexpectedly pulling out, parking requires a driver’s full attention. By using the NVIDIA DRIVE platform, Mpilot Parking can process data from the vehicle’s camera and ultrasonic sensors in real time. This allows the vehicle to perceive obstacles as well as detect parkable spaces.

To navigate underground and multi-level garages where GPS can’t operate, Mpilot Parking uses its vision-based localization, achieving accuracy within 10 centimeters.

And when the driver is ready to retrieve their car, they can summon it from their smartphone. The vehicle uses the same process to navigate back to where the driver is waiting.

From Low Speed to High Speed

The Momenta Mpilot system is also able to operate autonomously for highway driving. With NVIDIA DRIVE running Mpilot software, the system can operate a car at highway speeds, changing lanes, slowing and accelerating with traffic, and managing onramps and offramps.

To initiate lane changes, Mpilot Highway accurately measures the speed and position of each car in the adjacent lane and predicts the space available to merge, accelerating or decelerating accordingly. The same process applies to exiting or entering highway ramps. Drivable space is compared with localization data on a high-definition map, and speed is adjusted to safely maneuver.

By taking full advantage of NVIDIA DRIVE, Momenta’s Mpilot is driving autonomous vehicle innovation forward, relieving some of the biggest pain points of traveling today.