Nvidia’s New Level 2+ Autonomy Platform Is Making Cars Safer Today

“When it comes to creating safer roads, there’s no need to wait for vehicles that can drive themselves. AI has the potential to improve every new car today,” according to Danny Shapiro, Nvidia’s senior director of automotive solutions.

(Image source: Nvidia)

At Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019  in Las Vegas, Nvidia  of Santa Clara, California debuted a new automotive artificial intelligence (AI) system: DRIVE AutoPilot. The new system is part of the open, flexible Nvidia DRIVE platform  used globally to build autonomous vehicle solutions that increase road safety while reducing driver fatigue and stress on long drives or in stop-and-go traffic.

Many modern driver assistance systems rely on non-upgradable automotive electronic control units (ECUs) for data processing. For certain features, like automatic emergency breaking, that low-level processing is enough – but for autonomous features at level two and beyond, purpose-built processing systems are required to manage increased sensor data.

Read more: SAE International Releases Updated Visual Chart for Its “Levels of Driving Automation” Standard for Self-Driving Vehicles
(Image source: Nvidia)

DRIVE AutoPilot is a “Level 2+” automated driving solution that leverages the Nvidia DRIVE AGX Xavier  system-on-a-chip (SoC) for wide array of advanced autonomous functions and safety features. Nvidia DRIVE AGX Xavier is capable of computing 30 trillion operations per second while consuming only 30 watts of energy – about half the energy of an incandescent consumer-grade lightbulb. “This power and efficiency makes possible a much wider range of active safety features. It allows your car to run deep neural networks in parallel for surround perception, identifying and reacting to a variety of hazards all around the vehicle,” according to Danny Shapiro, Nvidia’s senior director of automotive solutions.

Read more: SAE International’s Automated and Connected Vehicles collection
(Image source: SAE International)

Nvidia DRIVE AGX Xavier runs a continuously updated Nvidia DRIVE Software stack, which automakers can use for object detection, traffic light, and sign recognition. It includes DRIVE AV autonomous driving software and DRIVE IX, which enables both driver monitoring and in-vehicle visualization to ensure the driver’s attention is on the road and act if the driver is drowsy or distracted. DRIVE AutoPilot also can drive previously driven routes through a feature called “My Route” when no HD map is available, enabling point-to-point automated driving. “Powering AI-infused automated driving with the DRIVE AutoPilot also makes it easier to advance to higher levels of autonomy. DRIVE AGX Xavier can be upgraded to DRIVE AGX Pegasus — capable of 320 trillion operations per second — with few architectural changes,” says Shapiro. Nvidia DRIVE AGX Pegasus delivers the performance of a trunk full of personal computers in an auto-grade form factor the size of a license plate. It currently provides Level 5 capabilities for robotaxis and DRIVE ecosystem partners are currently using DRIVE to bring vehicles with advanced AI safety features to the consumer market sooner.

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ZF Friedrichshafen , a Germany-based developer of driveline, chassis, and automotive safety technology, unveiled its own scalable ProAI  autonomous driving solution – built using Nvidia DRIVE Xavier processors Drive software and scheduled for production this year – earlier this week at CES 2019. The platform is designed for truck platooning and ranges in autonomous capability, from Level 2+ to Level 5.

Continental AG  of Hanover, Germany also announced a production-level automated driving architecture that will bridge from “Premium Assist” features to future automated functionalities. The Level 2+ system uses Continental’s portfolio of radar, lidar, camera and Automated Driving Control Unit (ADCU) technology, powered by Nvidia DRIVE, and will go into production in 2020.

And in October, Volvo Cars  of Gothenburg, Sweden announced the development of a Level 2+ systems on DRIVE AGX Xavier for vehicles slated for production in the early 2020s.

“Partners like these are using DRIVE AutoPilot to make cars safer now, and autonomous tomorrow. That makes building AI into vehicles a journey well worth starting today,” says Shapiro.

William Kucinski  is content editor at SAE International in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.

Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..