Nvidia and Mercedes announced on Tuesday that Nvidia's Drive hardware/software platform will underpin a "new software-defined architecture" that will be standard for the next-gen fleet of Mercedes' vehicles. The cars will start rolling out in 2024 and are promised to support "state-of-the-art automated driving features," including the ability to "automate driving from address to address on regular routes."
Mercedes also plans to use Nvidia's data center offerings to support its drive-related R&D efforts. The German luxury automaker says customers buying cars that support their new software architecture will be able to "add capabilities, software applications and subscription services through over-the-air software updates during the lifetime of the car."
The deal comes 17 months after Nvidia and Mercedes announced a partnership to develop autonomous driving and "intelligent cockpit" systems for future Mercedes cars. A year before that, the companies announced that Mercedes' MBUX infotainment system is powered by Nvidia's silicon.
Notably, the software architecture of Mercedes will be powered by Nvidia's Orin system-on - chip (SoC), which was unveiled in December and further detailed in May. Orin packs 12 ARM CPU cores and a GPU based on the new Ampere architecture of Nvidia, and is declared capable of processing 200 trillion deep learning operations per second (TOPS) while consuming only 45 watts.
Nvidia also offers a less powerful Orin SoC for Advanced Driver Assistance (ADAS) applications, it only delivers 10 TOPS, but consumes only 5 watts of power and can fit behind car windshields. Nvidia also offers an 800-watt, 2000-TOPS system for self-driving robotics which includes two Orin SoCs and two discrete Ampere GPUs.
Nvidia has Drive-related commitments with Audi, Volvo and Toyota as well as with Baidu's (BIDU) together with Mercedes. Apollo self-driving unit and Bosch and ZF car parts. The company has also indicated that some of the automakers that do not use their in-vehicle offerings are still major buyers of their data center solutions.
The Mercedes deal, which involves developing cars that support "automated driving" capabilities but do not fully eliminate the need for a human driver, comes at a time when both car manufacturers and various third parties have dialed back short-term expectations for autonomous driving.
In April, Ford said it is postponing its plans to launch an autonomous ride-sharing service until 2022. And last year, the self-driving unit of General Motors' Cruise called off plans to launch a ride-sharing service by end 2019.