Volvo has been working on driverless cars for a while, but now it has a new strategy to get those cars on the road within four years.
The Swedish carmaker is teaming up Nvidia, which plans to supply computing power to Volvo's initiative, as well as Autoliv, a firm that makes automotive safety systems and will be working on software. Volvo’s cars will be powered by Nvidia’s Drive PX supercomputer, which we've detailed in full in the past. It's basically a custom hardware array just for self-driving vehicles.
The Drive PX2 processes data from 12 video streams simultaneously and can handle data input from a range of sensors, including lidar, radar, and ultrasonic. With all this hardware, a vehicle can navigate autonomously, and with the right algorithms, it can read information gathered by that hardware - aka computer vision - to determine the difference between, say, a person and a road.
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Keep in mind that since 2013, Volvo has been conducting a pilot project, which it described as the "world’s first large-scale autonomous driving pilot project". It began by testing 100 self-driving Volvo cars on public roads in the Swedish city of Gothenburg. These roads were typical commuter arteries with motorway conditions. And it partnered with Nvidia to continue the pilot earlier this year.
Volvo starting using the PX platform with the purpose of discovering whether self-driving could be developed into a legit business opportunity and sold to customers. Now, the self-driving software made by Autoliv and Volvo - under a new joint company called Zenuity - will be sold to other carmakers. Volvo hopes to have its production vehicles using the self-driving system by 2021.