Continental and Nvidia announced a partnership to create artificial intelligence (AI) self-driving vehicle systems based on the Nvidia DRIVE platform, with a planned market introduction in 2021 for Level 3 features.

The partnership enables the development of AI computer systems scaling from automated Level 2 features to full Level 5 self-driving capabilities, where the vehicle has no steering wheel or pedals.

Solutions will be based on the Nvidia DRIVE platform, which includes Nvidia DRIVE Xavier—what the companies claim is the world's highest performance system-on-a-chip—as well as the Nvidia DRIVE OS and DRIVE AV (autonomous vehicle) software stacks. The solutions will use Continental's system and software engineering for ASIL D rated safety—the highest rating level—and integrate a range of Continental sensor technologies including radar, camera, and high-resolution 3D LiDAR.

"The vehicle of the future will be a sensing, planning, and acting computer on wheels. The complexity of autonomous driving requires nothing less than the full computational horsepower of an AI supercomputer," said Continental CEO Dr. Elmar Degenhart. "Together with Nvidia, we will deliver the complete AI self-driving solution from the cloud to the car. In doing so, we ensure the performance and flexibility required to achieve new levels of safety, comfort, and personalized driving of future vehicles."

"We now have all the key elements in place to take AI self-driving cars from development to mass production," said Jensen Huang, Founder and CEO of Nvidia. "Our newly arrived DRIVE Xavier processor, extensive Nvidia DRIVE software, and cloud-to-car approach for testing, validation, and functional safety. Combined with Continental's expertise and global reach, we will bring autonomous cars to the world."

Nvidia DRIVE Xavier can reportedly deliver 30 TOPS (trillion operations per second) for deep learning, while consuming only 30 W of energy. Continental and Nvidia will initially develop highly automated driving features, including 360-degree perception and automatic lane changing on highways, plus the ability to merge in traffic. In addition, the system will integrate HD maps, enabling the vehicle to localize itself and provide mapping updates.

Continental's advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) integrate multi-function cameras, fish-eye cameras with surround view, as well as short- and long-range radar sensors, high-resolution 3D LiDAR technologies, as well as central control units for assisted and automated driving.

"Partnering with Nvidia will enable Continental to advance beyond its leadership position in advanced driver assistance systems, delivering a scalable range of automated and autonomous vehicle systems, from today's NCAP requirements up to Level 5," said Luca De Ambroggi, Research and Analyst Director at IHS Markit.