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Mercedes Benz & NVIDIA Are Developing a New Software-Based Vehicle Architecture That Supports OTA Updates

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【Summary】A new partnership between German automaker Mercedes Benz and chipmaker NVIDIA will give owners the ability to add new software to their vehicles, keeping them up always to date with new features, including software that support higher levels of automated driving.

Eric Walz    Jun 23, 2020 10:30 AM PT
Mercedes Benz & NVIDIA Are Developing a New Software-Based Vehicle Architecture That Supports OTA Updates

Smartphone users today can customize their phones with thousands of downloadable apps, giving their older phones new capabilities and functions as they are being developed. Now this same concept of OTA software updates is coming to the entire lineup of Mercedes Benz vehicles.

A new partnership between German automaker Mercedes Benz and chipmaker NVIDIA will give owners the ability to add new software to their vehicles, keeping them up always to date with new features, including software that support higher levels of automated driving.

Mercedes Benz announced that it's developing an entirely new software-based architecture that supports over-the-air updates for its next generation vehicle fleet using NVIDIA's AI-powered DRIVE platform.

The advanced software-based vehicle architecture will be introduced beginning with 2024 model year vehicles, eventually rolling out to the entire Mercedes Benz fleet globally. 

By working together, the two companies plan on developing the most sophisticated and advanced computing architecture ever deployed in the auto industry.  

Drivers of these future Mercedes Benz software defined cars will be able to add convenience apps to their vehicles the same way Apple iPhone and Android device owners can add new apps to their devices. 

Mercedes Benz plans to offer some of the vehicle software updates as a subscription service, including some specialized automated driving functions.

The new software-defined architecture will be built on NVIDIA's robust DRIVE platform, which will come standard in the next-generation of Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Eventually, every future Mercedes Benz model globally will come with the advanced and upgradable software-based architecture, from the entry-level A-Class to S-Class models.

NVIDIA's powerful DRIVE AGX Orin platform includes all of the necessary vehicle sensors for automated driving. 

NVIDIA's Orin is an astonishingly advanced processor for self-driving vehicles that was a result of four years of R&D investment by NVIDIA. The new platform is powered by a new system-on-a-chip (SoC), which consists of 17 billion transistors. 

The Orin SoC integrates NVIDIA's next-generation GPU architecture and Arm Hercules CPU cores. The Orin SoC is combined with new deep-learning and computer vision accelerators that can deliver up to 200 trillion operations per second (200 TOPS), which Nvidia says is 7 times better performance than its previous generation Xavier SoC, which delivers 30TOPS of performance respectively.

The Orin SoC can transmit over 200 gigabytes of vehicle data per second of data using just 60 to 70 Watts of power, according to Danny Shapiro, Nvidia's Senior Director of Automotive.

The OTA vehicle software updates can also generate additional revenue streams for Mercedes Benz. Customers will be able to purchase new features and services and always keep their vehicles up to date. 

It's still unclear what the OTA software updates or convenience apps will cost drivers when they are introduced, but it's likely to open up an entire new ecosystem of software-based add-ons for Mercedes Benz vehicles. 

For example, if a Mercedes Benz customer wants to add a new self-parking function to their vehicle, it can be made available as an OTA software update from Mercedes, either via a subscription or for purchase. All of the necessary NVIDIA hardware to run the software will be pre-installed in the vehicle from the factory. 

It's the same way electric vehicle pioneer Tesla pushes out new software and updates to its electric vehicles. This allows Mercedes Benz owners to keep their cars up to date with the latest software for the life of the vehicle.

"This new platform will become an efficient, centralized and software-defined system in our future Mercedes-Benz vehicles. NVIDIA's AI computing architecture will help us streamline our journey towards autonomous driving. These new capabilities and upgrades will be downloaded from the cloud, improving safety, increasing value and extending the joy of ownership for all Mercedes-Benz customers."  siad Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz AG in s statement.

NVIDIA_Orin.jpg

The NVIDIA Orin SoC is paired with new deep-learning and computer vision accelerators that can deliver up to 200 trillion operations per second.

Among the planned software updates will be the ability to enter an address via the navigation system and the Mercedes vehicle will be able to drive autonomously to the destination. As the technology and regulatory framework is developed, it will be possible for every Mercedes Benz vehicle to be updated OTA to enable more advanced automated driving functions as they are developed. 

"We are excited to work with Mercedes-Benz," said Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA. "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."

The NVIDIA DRIVE platform includes a full system software stack designed for automated driving AI applications. NVIDIA and Mercedes-Benz will jointly develop the AI and automated vehicle applications that include SAE level 2 and 3, as well as automated parking functions (up to level 4).

To develop the new models, both companies will be utilizing NVIDIA DRIVE Infrastructure to enable data-driven, deep neural network development to handle the requirements of each local region where the cars will operate across the globe.

As cars become "computers on wheels", the partnership with Mercedes Benz and NVIDIA is another example of global automakers teaming up with industry partners to jumpstart the development of advanced vehicle technology, which is set to transform the auto industry. These technologies include autonomous driving, electrification, cloud-computing and advanced AI-powered vehicle safety systems.

The partnership with Mercedes Benz further helps NVIDIA establish itself as a leading supplier to the auto industry, providing the robust hardware and software to power future autonomous driving technology. It will also give Mercedes Benz vehicles the same OTA updates that Tesla offers.

NVIDIA's other automotive customers include Toyota, Audi, Tesla and Volvo.

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