Volvo & NVIDIA Announce a New Partnership to Develop Autonomous Vehicles

Volvo & NVIDIA Announce a New Partnership to Develop Autonomous Vehicles

Author: Eric Walz   

Volvo Trucks and chipmaker Nvidia today announced a new partnership in which the two companies will work together developing commercial autonomous trucks using hardware and software developed by Nvidia.

At its headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden, Volvo Group announced today that will use NVIDIA's DRIVE end-to-end autonomous driving platform to train, test and deploy self-driving AI-powered commercial vehicles.

"This is the largest commercial vehicle and high-tech collaboration that has ever been announced." said NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang during a conference call today.

"Our two industries have been separate since their founding," he added. "Today we announced one partnership to develop the future together. For the first time, we can imagine supplying  AI for something that wasn't possible before, the automation of transportation."

Volvo's partnership with NVIDIA will focus on the development of a flexible, scalable autonomous driving system, which is planned to be used first in commercial pilots and later in commercial offerings from the Volvo Group.

To facilitate the new partnership, Nvidia and Volvo are co-locating engineering teams in Gothenburg and Silicon Valley. The two companies will build upon Nvidia's robust DRIVE AGX Pegasus platform for in-vehicle AI computing. Pegasus includes an entire software stack for 360-degree sensor processing, perception, map localization and path planning.

They will also test and validate these systems using the NVIDIA DRIVE hardware-in-the-loop simulation platform.

NVIDIA's DRIVE AGX Pegasus platform is one of the most advanced in-vehicle AI processors. It achieves an unprecedented 320 TOPS of deep-learning calculations with an architecture built on two NVIDIA Xavier processors, as well as two TensorCore GPUs. This high-performance AI-based system is designed to safely handle fully autonomous driving.

Applying autonomous technology to an entire lineup of trucks and the potential benefits become enormous. The autonomous vehicles can make a wide variety of industries more efficient, with vehicles that can work continuously and travel farther.

Huang called the Volvo Group partnership "a landmark for the trucking industry" which will lead to the future of transportation.

The demands of online shopping and the explosion of e-commerce are putting even greater stress on the world's transport systems and many of these challenges, such as a shortage of drivers industry-wide, can be addressed by deploying autonomous trucks.

According to consultancy firm KPMG, more than 35 million packages worldwide are delivered each day, which is growing up to 28% percent annually. By 2040, delivery services will have to travel another 78 billion miles each year to handle goods ordered online.

Aside from being safer, autonomous trucks can be more fully utilized. The trucks can operate 24 hours a day, speeding up delivery times while bringing down the annual cost of logistics in the U.S. by 45% — between $85 billion and $125 billion, according to experts at consulting firm McKinsey.


The Nvidia DRIVE Constellation simulator creates realistic enviorments like this to test autonomous driving software.

Testing Autonomous Driving in Simulation for Safety

For added safety, Volvo Group will be utilizing NVIDIA DRIVE Constellation to test and validate AVs, ensuring they can handle diverse operating challenges. Constellation uses photorealistic simulation to create a real-world environment to test autonomous software. It is capable of generating billions of qualified miles of autonomous vehicle testing, all in the safety of a simulated environment.

By leveraging hardware-in-the-loop simulation, the companies can test actual autonomous driving systems on the exact same hardware and software that will run in the vehicle on the road, at a significantly greater scale.

"If we are to succeed in the future with the speed, quality and safety, and to gain benefits of autonomous driving, we need to partner up with the best guys. In this world of unknowns, you need a partnership built on trust." said  Volvo Group CEO Martin Lundstedt.

The partnership is the latest example of an traditional automaker partnering with a Silicon Valley tech company to advance autonomous driving development.

"Partnership is the new leadership" said Huang.

The collaboration between Nvidia and Volvo begins immediately. However, the two companies did not say when the first of the autonomous trucks will hit the road.

Financial terms of the deal were also not disclosed.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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