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Embark's Universal Truck Platform Powered by NVIDIA DRIVE Converts Ordinary Class-8 Trucks into Self-Driving Vehicles

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【Summary】San Francisco-based autonomous trucking startup Embark Trucks Inc. has developed a universal platform called the “Embark Universal Interface'' (EUI) that converts Class-8 trucks from different manufacturers and makes them capable of self-driving. The EUI is powered by the NVIDIA DRIVE autonomous driving hardware and software platform.

Eric Walz    Aug 10, 2021 10:55 AM PT
Embark's Universal Truck Platform Powered by NVIDIA DRIVE Converts Ordinary Class-8 Trucks into Self-Driving Vehicles

San Francisco-based autonomous trucking startup Embark Trucks Inc. developed a universal platform called the "Embark Universal Interface'' (EUI) that converts Class-8 trucks from different manufacturers and makes them capable of self-driving. 

The EUI is capable of integrating into Class-8 long-haul trucks from any of the four major truck manufacturers in the U.S., which are PACCAR, Volvo, International and Freightliner. All of these trucks are widely used in the freight industry by carriers.

By developing a platform that can be retrofitted to such a wide range of vehicles, Embark is helping the trucking industry realize the benefits of adding autonomous trucks to their fleets without having to wait for purpose-built vehicles from truckmakers.

The EUI includes all of the hardware and sensors necessary to convert trucks from each of the manufactuers into self-driving trucks. It has all of the functional safety certification to operate without a driver on public roads. 

Embark's EUI will be powered by the NVIDIA DRIVE autonomous driving platform. Embark has been working with NVIDIA for the past four years to develop its EUI for long-haul trucks. By choosing the NVIDIA DRIVE platform to power its EUI, Embark is adopting a scalable compute solution to deploy robust self-driving software in the trucking industry. 

NVIDIA's DRIVE family of processors were purposefully developed to support autonomous driving systems with the best in high-performance AI compute for self-driving capabilities.

Self-driving vehicles require massive compute power for deep-learning algorithms and AI. The AI-powered NVIDIA DRIVE SoCs can process vast amounts of data to support autonomous driving. It offers a centralized, high-performance processing that combines deep learning, sensor fusion and a 360 degree surround vision perception system for safe autonomous driving.

"In order to meet the high safety and performance standards demanded by the Embark Driver software via the EUI, we need an enormous amount of compute power in our trucks," said Ajith Dasari, Head of Hardware Platform at Embark. "The NVIDIA DRIVE platform meets this need head-on, and allows us to outfit our partners and customers with the best self-driving hardware and software currently on the market."

NVIDIA DRIVE  is the first scalable AI-powered platform featuring a suite of hardware and software that work together to enable the production of automated and self-driving vehicles.

This end-to-end open platform allows for one development investment across an entire fleet of trucks, from Level 2 systems monitored by a human backup driver to Level 5 fully autonomous vehicles that require no human intervention. 

NVIDIA's DRIVE platform is also being used by other automakers. In June, Volvo announced that its upcoming electric XC90 will use the NVIDIA's Orin system-on-a-chip (SoC) to power the autonomous driving and safety systems. Nvidia's Orin processor is one of the world's most powerful SoCs and delivers the computing power required for computer vision and lidar sensor data processing.

In April, NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang unveiled NVIDIA DRIVE Atlan, the next generation of its AI-powered compute platform for autonomous vehicles. Atlan will be able to handle the large number of applications and deep neural networks that run simultaneously in autonomous vehicles.

Nvidia said its next-generation Atlan platform will achieve an unprecedented 1,000 trillion operations per second (1,000 TOPS) of performance. The platform supports deep neural networks that will power future autonomous vehicles, while leaving headroom for developers to continuously add new features and improvements.

While many companies are working on self-driving technology for passenger vehicles, Embark and others, including Aurora and Amazon-backed TuSimple, are focused on developing self-driving technology for the $700 billion truck market in the U.S., which is poised to be transformed through technology.

"By selecting NVIDIA DRIVE, Embark will help accelerate the development of commercial self-driving software-as-a-service for the trucking industry, achieving a safer and more efficient freight ecosystem," said Rishi Dhall, Vice President of Automotive Business at NVIDIA. 

From an engineering perspective, autonomous trucks do not face some of the difficult engineering challenges that developers of self-driving passenger vehicles face for safely navigating through urban areas packed with other vehicles, pedestrians and other road users.

For shippers, self-driving trucks can operate more safely than a human driver. Automated trucks also use less fuel and can be utilized 24 hours a day without having to take mandatory breaks like human drivers do. Converting Class-8 trucks for self-driving also addresses the growing shortage of truck drivers in the industry.

Embark is already working with leading trucking companies and plans to continue to extend its software and hardware technology in the shipping industry. In April, the company unveiled partnerships with Werner Enterprises, Mesilla Valley Transportation and Bison Transport. It's also working with shippers including Anheuser Busch InBev and HP, Inc.

Embark plans to launch an IPO this year in a merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Northern Genesis Acquisition Corp. II (Northern Genesis 2). The transaction reflects an implied pro forma equity value of $5.16 billion and enterprise value of $4.55 billion.

The business combination is expected to be completed in the second half of this year.

Embark also recently announced a partnership with Knight-Swift Transportation, which is the fifth largest shipping company in the U.S. 

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