Continental, Nvidia team up to flood Earth with self-driving cars

Continental's forthcoming AV platform will rely on Nvidia's brains to power it all.

Andrew Krok Reviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
Andrew Krok
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Continental Intelligent Intersection

Continental is a major vehicle supplier that plans to introduce a platform for self-driving cars . Nvidia is determined to get its Drive AI chipset in as many autonomous cars as possible. Sounds to me like a match made in heaven.

Continental and Nvidia announced today that the two have entered into a strategic partnership with regard to autonomous vehicle development. Continental will use Nvidia's Drive AI chipset for its platform, which it intends to introduce to market in 2021. The goal is to make a computer system that's scalable in terms of autonomy, delivering anywhere between SAE Level 2 and Level 5, depending on the buyer's needs.

Nvidia Drive Xavier
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Nvidia Drive Xavier

Nvidia calls its Xavier chip the world's first autonomous machine processor, as it's built specifically to analyze sensor data and make decisions for self-driving cars.


Instead of building a complete self-driving car from scratch, Continental will instead act as a sort of self-driving supplier. It will instead create a platform that automakers can integrate into their own vehicles, which is beneficial for automakers that lack the time or money (or both) to develop an in-house solution.

"The vehicle of the future will be a sensing, planning and acting computer on wheels. The complexity of autonomous driving requires nothing less than the full computational horsepower of an AI supercomputer," said Dr. Elmar Degenhart, CEO of Continental, in a statement. "Together with the performance and flexibility of NVIDIA's AI self-driving solution, from the cloud to the car we will achieve new levels of safety, comfort and personalization for future vehicles."

Degenhart's got a good point that many folks may still not yet grasp. Implementing even a mild semi-autonomous system requires the car to handle way more data than it would otherwise -- sensors and cameras will keep churning out data, and something will need to process all that data and turn it into something the car can use. That's why partnerships like these are so vital, because if the computer under the hood can't do its job, then the whole thing is for naught.

Nvidia has practically carved out its own AV-news-related beat over the last few months. The company has announced partnerships with Toyota, Volkswagen, Uber, Audi, Bosch, ZF and others. And since we still have years before these partnerships bear fruit that's market-ready, don't expect this kind of news to slow down any time soon.