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Self-Driving Truck Developer TuSimple Builds a Domain Controller for L4 Autonomous Driving Using the NVIDIA DRIVE Orin SoC

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【Summary】​Autonomous truck developer TuSimple has expanded its ongoing partnership with chipmaker NVIDIA to design and develop an advanced "autonomous domain controller" (ADC) specifically for TuSimple's Level 4 autonomous trucks. The ADC will incorporate the NVIDIA DRIVE Orin system-on-a-chip (SoC), which is specifically designed for AI-based autonomous driving applications.

FutureCar Staff    Jan 05, 2022 3:30 PM PT
Self-Driving Truck Developer TuSimple Builds a Domain Controller for L4 Autonomous Driving Using the NVIDIA DRIVE Orin SoC

Autonomous truck developer TuSimple has expanded its ongoing partnership with chipmaker NVIDIA to design and develop an advanced "autonomous domain controller" (ADC) specifically for TuSimple's Level 4 autonomous trucking applications, the company announced on Tuesday . 

The ADC will incorporate the NVIDIA DRIVE Orin system-on-a-chip (SoC), which is specifically designed for AI-based autonomous driving applications. Nvidia's Orin is one of the most powerful SoCs. It delivers the computing power required for advanced AI-powered computer vision processing.

The collaboration with NVIDIA will help TuSimple deploy its autonomous trucks on the Autonomous Freight Network (AFN) at scale. TuSimple will leverage its experience in developing an advanced Level-4 ADS for semi-trucks, while NVIDIA will contribute its DRIVE Orin hardware and AI expertise.

The scalable and powerful NVIDIA DRIVE Orin SoC delivers 254 TOPS (trillion operations per second) of performance to support safe autonomous driving capabilities.

The Nvidia-powered ADC is an integral part of TuSimple's highway autonomous driving system for Class-8 trucks, supporting perception, planning, and actuation functions. It will be integrated into the company's future autonomous truck production programs. 

TuSimple says the strategic vertical integration will give the company more control over the ADC's capabilities and accelerate its development timeline.

TuSimple's long-range perception system uses a combination of LiDAR, radar and HD cameras. It allows the autonomous system to successfully navigate in nearly any driving condition, keeping a truck centered in a lane with an accuracy of 5 centimeters.

"A high-performance, production-ready ADC is a critical piece to scaling our AFN, and we are taking a hands-on role to advance its development with the help of NVIDIA," said Cheng Lu, President, and CEO of TuSimple. "We believe this move provides us a significant competitive advantage in speeding time to market and further extending our industry leadership position."

TuSimple will own usage rights to the ADC reference design, including certain limited "first-use" provisions, the company said. TuSimple intends to work with third-party manufacturers to produce the ADC.

"We have been strong advocates of TuSimple from the start, first as an NVIDIA Inception member back in 2017, and now as they continue to blaze trails in the autonomous trucking industry," said Gary Hicok, senior vice president of engineering at NVIDIA. "TuSimple is moving from development using NVIDIA GPUs to production based on DRIVE Orin. This new powerful and scalable ADC solution will help move the entire autonomous trucking industry forward."

TuSimple was founded in 2015 with the goal of bringing level-4 autonomous driving technology to the trucking industry, which is poised for disruption with modern technology.  

While many tech startups are focused on autonomous driving development for passenger vehicles, TuSimple is focused on development of Class-8 trucks for the shipping industry. The company launched the world's first Autonomous Freight Network in 2020 and today operates a fleet of more than 50 autonomous trucks between Arizona and Florida.

Last month, TuSimple announced it successfully completed a 80-mile trip on public roads in one of its self-driving Class-8 trucks. The 80-mile journey began at a railyard in Tucson, Arizona and ended at a distribution center in Phoenix. 

It marks the first time that TuSimple completed the trip without a human on board and zero intervention from a remote operator. The company says the trip was the first ever successful fully-autonomous run by a class 8 vehicle, or semi, on open public roads with no human intervention. 

TuSimple compares the driverless truck routes to a railroad, with trucks following set routes like railway links between fixed points.

Nvidia's DRIVE platform is being used by other automakers as well to support autonomous driving functions. In addition to TuSimple, Nvidia is supplying its DRIVE hardware to Volvo, EV startup XPeng, Mercedes-Benz and autonomous truck developer Embark.

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