Nvidia Partners with Paccar to Develop Driverless Systems for Trucks
【Summary】The formation of the partnership would allow Nvidia to diversify the application of its technology and chipsets by supporting commercial trucks. Powering the autonomous Paccar truck is Nvidia’s Drive PX 2, which comes with blisteringly fast computing power comparable to 150 MacBook Pros.
With top self-driving developers consolidating, through Uber's acquisition of Otto, and more recently, Intel's acquisition of Mobileye, some driverless companies are scrambling to form partnerships to solidify their place in the industry. One of these brands is leading chipmaker Nvidia.
The autonomous vehicle component manufacturer announced a very strategic collaboration with Paccar, a Bellevue-based maker of Peterbilt, Kenworth and DAF truck brands. The formation of the partnership would allow Nvidia to diversify the application of its technology and chipsets by supporting commercial trucks. This would help reduce risks in developing driverless platforms for the private car market, as the influx of startups is causing the niche to become increasingly crowded.
With this in mind, what can we expect to come out of this unique partnership?
Expanding the Drive PX 2
Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of Nvidia, revealed the company's intentions via a proof of concept video that shows a self-driving Paccar truck operating without a human driver. So far, we know that the truck leverages SAE-L4 technology. As a reminder, this level of autonomous driving (also known as "high automation") relies on the system for basic driving maneuvers, monitoring of environment and fallback performance. Furthermore, the majority of driving modes are executed by the platform.
Powering the autonomous Paccar truck is Nvidia's Drive PX 2, which comes with blisteringly fast computing power comparable to 150 MacBook Pros. The lunchbox-size computer was revealed last year at CES 2016, featuring a whopping 12 processing cores capable of handling eight teraflops of data. This is the same computer that is being used in vehicles participating in Roborace, as well as Tesla's Autopilot.
"Drivenet and Drive PX 2 are components of a deep learning network, which is becoming a foundation computing technology to not only enable self-driving cars, but power speech recognition and other ways in which computers interact with humans and the outside world," explained Wayne Cunningham from CNET.
Paccar's Autonomous Interests
Paccar has been interested in driverless technology for quite some time. In 2014, the business showcased a robust predictive cruise control feature and predictive shifting at the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (International Motor Show Germany). Some analysts speculate that Paccar, like Nvidia, is interested in the partnership because it wants to futureproof its company. Last year, Paccar posted a staggering $594.6 million loss in the first quarter due to a price-fixing investigation involving its DAF Trucks division. In the third quarter of 2016, the business posted another loss, this time blaming low demand for freight services.
By offering driverless features for its trucks, Paccar would be adding value to its trucking fleets. This would put the company in a position to sell their vessels at higher price points. Lastly, since autonomous trucks are extremely uncommon at this time, Paccar would be in a better position to dominate the crippled trucking industry.
"General economic activity has been fairly slow the first half of the year — still slightly positive, but weak," said John Blodgett, vice president of sales and marketing for research and consulting firm MacKay & Co. "There are issues — such as overflows in inventory — and working that out is causing downside for freight in the market."
Michael Cheng is a legal editor and technical writer with publications for Blackberry ISHN Magazine Houzz and Payment Week. He specializes in technology business and digesting hard data. Outside of work Michael likes to train for marathons spend time with his daughter and explore new places.
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