US tech firm Nvidia teams up with Mercedes-Benz in self-driving car push
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US tech firm Nvidia teams up with Mercedes-Benz in self-driving car push

Move could mark an escalation in competition between Nvidia and Intel Corp., both of which have targeted the autonomous vehicle market and have acquired Israeli firms

Nvidia's founder and CEO Jensen Huang speaking at the firm's GTC developers conference in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2017 (Courtesy)
Nvidia's founder and CEO Jensen Huang speaking at the firm's GTC developers conference in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2017 (Courtesy)

US gaming and computer graphics giant Nvidia Corp., which recently acquired Israel’s Mellanox Technologies Ltd. for $7 billion, said Tuesday it has teamed up with car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz to jointly create the “most sophisticated and advanced” computer system for cars.

Starting in 2024, the system will be rolled out across the fleet of next-generation Mercedes-Benz vehicles, enabling them to have upgradable automated driving functions, Nvidia said in a statement.

“Working together, the companies plan to develop the most sophisticated and advanced computing architecture ever deployed in an automobile,” the statement said.

Competitor Intel Corp., the giant US tech firm and maker of semiconductors, in 2017 acquired Jerusalem-based Mobileye for a whopping $15.3 billion, making its push in the field of self-driving cars.

The software that Nvidia and Mercedes-Benz will develop will be built on the NVIDIA DRIVE platform and will be standard in Mercedes-Benz’ next-generation fleet, “enabling state-of-the-art automated driving functionalities,” the statement said.

A key feature will be the ability to automate driving of regular routes from address to address, the statement said, and the software will also have numerous safety and convenience applications. Customers will be able to purchase and add capabilities, software applications and subscription services through software updates during the life of the car, the statement said.

Mercedes-Benz 2019 A-Class cars already offer drivers rich, real-time 3D graphics and artificial intelligence systems in the car’s dashboard powered by Nvidia.

Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA, said Mercedes-Benz is a “perfect partner” for the project because of its “long record of innovation.”

“We share a common vision of the automobile of the future,” Huang said in the statement. “Together, we’re going to revolutionize the car ownership experience, making the vehicle software programmable and continuously upgradeable via over-the-air updates. Every future Mercedes-Benz with the NVIDIA DRIVE system will come with a team of expert AI and software engineers continuously developing, refining and enhancing the car over its lifetime.”

“NVIDIA’s AI computing architecture will help us streamline our journey towards autonomous driving,” said Ola Källenius, chairman of the board of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars.

Nvidia’s acquisition of Mellanox, initially announced on March 11, 2019, combines NVIDIA’s computing expertise with Mellanox’s high-performance networking technology, a move aimed to enable customers to achieve higher performance, greater utilization of computing resources and lower operating costs.

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