Mercedes-Benz and Nvidia have announced a joint effort to create a new in-vehicle computing system capable of handling autonomous driving, with regular over-the-air updates.
The pair describe the upcoming system as "the most sophisticated and advanced computing architecture ever deployed in an automobile".
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Choosing not to stray too far into the realms of driverless fiction, the companies said their system will enable Level 2 and Level 3 autonomous driving. The former is similar to what Tesla cars are capable of today using their Autopilot driver assistance system, which can manage the movement of the vehicle on some roads, but relies on the driving paying full attention at all times.
Mercedes and Nvidia also say their system will enable Level 4 autonomous parking, which should eventually see vehicles complete parking manoeuvres entirely by themselves, with no human involvement. Mercedes has separately worked with Bosch for the last few years on a system where cars seek out spaces and park themselves in a parking lot, then return to their owner when summoned.
Out on the public road, the two companies say the system, which is based on Nvidia's DRIVE platform, will be able to "automate driving of regular routes from address to address".
Additionally, the system will allow for consumers to buy a car, then add new safety and convenience features to it via software updates at a later date. The companies said: "Customers will be able to purchase and add capabilities, software applications and subscription services through over-the-air software updates during the life of the car."
This sounds similar to what Tesla offers with Autopilot today, where the cars leave the factory with all the necessary hardware installed, and the system can be enabled via an in-car payment and software update.
But, while some of the features outlined by Mercedes and Nvidia are available from Tesla and others today, the pair say their system will be rolled out to the next-generation of Mercedes vehicles "starting in 2024".
Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, said: "Together, we're going to revolutionize the car ownership experience, making the vehicle software programmable and continuously upgradable via over-the-air updates. Every future Mercedes-Benz with the Nvidia DRIVE system will come with a team of expert AI and software engineers continuously developing, refining and enhancing the car over its lifetime."