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Daimler & Xilinx Reveal Details of AI-Powered In-vehicle Assistant

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【Summary】German automaker Daimler announced earlier this year it was working with semiconductor company Xilinx to develop an AI-powered in-vehicle system for future Mercedes Benz models, including the new Mercedes Benz A-Class. This week at the Xilinx Developer Forum keynote in Frankfurt, the two companies unveiled for the first time details of the new in-vehicle system.

Eric Walz    Dec 12, 2018 3:58 PM PT
Daimler & Xilinx Reveal Details of AI-Powered In-vehicle Assistant

FRANKFURT — German automaker Daimler announced earlier this year it was working with semiconductor company Xilinx to develop an AI-powered in-vehicle system for future Mercedes Benz models, including the new Mercedes Benz A-Class. This week at the Xilinx Developer Forum keynote in Frankfurt, the two companies unveiled for the first time details of the new in-vehicle system.

The collaboration is another example of a tech company partnering with an established global automaker to bring more cutting-edge technology to the automotive industry at a quicker pace.

At the event, Ivo Bolsens, Xilinx CTO, was joined on stage by Thomas Kaelberer, Manager of Intelligent Interior at Daimler. During their presentation, Daimler revealed for the first time additional details around its technical collaboration with Xilinx.

In June, Daimler and Xilinx first disclosed their collaboration on an in-car system using Xilinx technology for artificial intelligence (AI) processing in automotive applications. Kaelberer is now able to disclose further details of the collaboration, including contributing to a first-of-its-kind AI solution in the new Mercedes GLE Sport Utility Vehicle.

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Bringing AI to Mercedes Benz Vehicles

While many automakers and tech companies are working on AI for autonomous driving,  Daimler is working to completely change the experience for passengers by bringing complex deep learning algorithms to a car's interior. Instead of always having to push buttons, the automaker is offering an interior that intuitively interprets how the car can support occupants in given situations.

According to Kaelberer, the trend toward greater driving assistance features combined with longer times being spent in traffic has driven the need for a higher level of automation both inside and outside of the vehicle.

The new system is called the MBUX Interior Assistant and it uses artificial intelligence (AI) to recognize the natural movements of vehicle occupants, as well as their context, so the vehicle can predict driver and passenger needs and accommodate them without the need to push any buttons.

The system incorporates a high-resolution widescreen cockpit with touchscreen operation, navigation display with augmented reality technology, plus intelligent voice control with natural speech recognition.

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The MBUX Interior Assistant will debut in the 2019 Mercedes Benz A-Class

Daimler showed off some of the impressive capabilities including a ‘searchlight' function that can understand when you want to see inside the car at night and the MBUX Interior Assistant will respond by automatically turning the lights on and off with just the extension of the driver's arm.

Xilinx, based in San Jose, has a long history in the automotive industry. The company has shipped over 40 million automotive units to automakers and Tier 1 suppliers over the past 12 years.

The Xilinx automotive platform includes system-on-a-chip (SoC) devices and AI acceleration software, which delivers the high-performance and low latency required for embedded AI in automotive grade applications.

Daimler said it benchmarked many powerful computing platforms before deciding to work with Xilinx. The automaker chose the semiconductor company because it had the best performance-per-watt and lowest latency, combined with automotive grade components.

When designing the MBUX Interior Assistant, the Daimler team was faced with a unique challenge. Daimler's engineers designed the entire MBUX Interior Assistant computing subsystem to fit within the roof of the vehicle, which is a very thermally constrained environment, particularly in the summer months.

The teams from the Daimler development centers from Germany, India, and the U.S., in collaboration with Xilinx, successfully completed the ambitious project in less than two years.

Mercedes Benz is rolling out the MBUX platform beginning with the new 2019 A-Class. The rest of the company's models will get the new AI system over the next two years.

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