Driving Progress: NVIDIA Leads Autonomous Vehicle Industry Report

End-to-end AI solutions rank highest among self-driving platforms.
by Danny Shapiro

As the industry begins to deploy autonomous driving technology, NVIDIA is leading the way in delivering a complete end-to-end solution, including data center infrastructure, software toolkits, libraries and frameworks, as well as high-performance, energy-efficient compute for safer, more efficient transportation.

Every year, advisory firm Navigant Research releases a report on the state of the autonomous vehicle industry. This year, the company broke out its in-depth research into “Automated Vehicle Compute Platforms” and “Automated Driving Vehicles” leaderboards, ranking the major players in each category.

In the 2020 Automated Vehicle Compute Platforms report, NVIDIA led the list of companies developing AV platforms to power the AI that will replace the human driver.

Automated Vehicle Compute Platforms Leaderboard

“NVIDIA is a proven company with a long history of producing really strong hardware and software,” said Sam Abuelsamid, principal research analyst at Navigant and author of both reports. “Having a platform that produces ever-increasing performance and power efficiency is crucial for the entire industry.”

While NVIDIA provides solutions for developing autonomous vehicles, the Automated Driving Vehicles report covers those who are building such vehicles for production.  Manufacturers using these compute platforms include automakers, tier 1 suppliers, robotaxi companies and software startups that are part of the NVIDIA DRIVE ecosystem.

These reports are just one piece of the larger autonomous vehicle development picture. While they don’t contain every detail of the current state of self-driving systems, they provide valuable insight into how the industry approaches this transformative technology.

Computing the Way Forward

The Navigant leaderboard uses a detailed methodology in determining both the companies it covers and how they rank.

The Automated Vehicle Compute Platforms report looks at those who are developing compute platforms and have silicon designs that are in at least sample production or have plans to be soon. These systems must have fail-operational capability to ensure safety when there’s no human backup at the wheel.

The report evaluates companies using factors such as vision, technology, go-to-market strategy and partners. NVIDIA’s top rating is based on leading performance across this wide range of factors.

NVIDIA Strategy and Execution Scores

With the high-performance, energy-efficient DRIVE AGX platform, NVIDIA topped the inaugural leaderboard report for its progress in the space. The platform’s scalable architecture and the open, modular NVIDIA DRIVE software make it easy for autonomous vehicle manufacturers to scale DRIVE solutions to meet their individual production plans.

“Without powerful, energy-efficient compute and the reliability and robustness to handle the automotive environment, none of rest would be possible,” Abuelsamid said. “Looking at the current compute platforms, NVIDIA is the clear leader.”

Compute is a critical element to autonomous vehicles. It’s what makes it possible for a vehicle to process in real time the terabytes of data coming in from camera, radar and lidar sensors. It also enables self-driving software to run multiple deep neural networks simultaneously, achieving the diversity and redundancy in operation that is critical for safety. Furthermore, by ensuring a compute platform has enough performance headroom, developers can continuously add features and improve the system over time.

Empowering Our Ecosystem

A second report from Navigant, the Automated Driving Vehicles report, ranks companies developing Level 4 autonomous driving systems — which don’t require a human backup in defined conditions — for passenger vehicles.

The leaderboard includes announced members of the NVIDIA DRIVE ecosystem such as Baidu, Daimler-Bosch, Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo, Voyage and Zoox, as well as many other partners who have yet to be disclosed, all developing autonomous vehicles using NVIDIA end-to-end AI solutions.

Automated Driving Vehicles Leaderboard

The report notes many of the challenges the industry faces, such as comprehensive validation and production costs. NVIDIA delivers autonomous vehicle development tools from the cloud to the car to help companies address these issues.

NVIDIA is unique in providing solutions for in the vehicle, as well as the datacenter infrastructure for the AV industry. With NVIDIA DGX systems and advanced AI learning tools, developers can efficiently train the deep neural networks that run in the vehicle on petabytes of data in the data center. These DNNs can then be tested and validated in the virtual world on the same hardware they would run on in the vehicle using the cloud-based, bit-accurate DRIVE Constellation simulation platform.

The ability to build a seamless workflow with compatible tools can greatly improve efficiency in development, according to Abuelsamid.

“As this technology evolves and matures, developers are going through many iterations of hardware and software,” he said. “Having an ecosystem that allows you to develop at all different levels, from in-vehicle, to data center, to simulation, and transfer knowledge you’ve gained from one to the other is very important.”

By providing our ecosystem with these industry-leading end-to-end solutions, we’re working to bring safer, more efficient transportation to roads around the world, sooner.

Navigant Research provides syndicated and custom research services across a range of technologies encompassing the energy ecosystem. Mobility reports, including the Automated Driving Leaderboard, the Automated Vehicle Compute Platform leaderboard and the Automated Vehicles Forecast, are available here.