Nvidia’s autonomous vehicle platform to power Nio’s 2022 electric sedan

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Nvidia’s autonomous vehicle chips to power Nio 2022 electric sedan.
Image: Nivida

Nvidia announced it would be providing self-driving vehicle system-on-a-chips (SoCs) for Chinese electric carmaker Nio’s 2022 ET7 sedans. The firm also inked agreements to supply East Asian automobile companies Li Auto and Xpeng with DRIVE Orin platforms.

The Santa Clara, California-based corporation has made a big push into the automotive sector recently. The firm revealed its hardware would power next-generation Hyundai Motor Group and Mercedes-Benz personal transports in 2020.

Based on its recent announcements, it isn’t planning to let up on the accelerator in 2021.

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Nvidia Technology, Nio’s Cars

Last weekend, Nio unveiled its ET7 four-door electric vehicle (EV) to the world at its “Nio Day” event. The company boasted that the sedan has a 500 km (300 miles) per charge range standard and 600 horsepower dual-engine build. It also touted the automobile’s 12.8 inch OLED dashboard panel, digital instrument cluster, and autonomous operation capability.

Nvidia disclosed that DRIVE Orin would power the ET7’s onboard artificial intelligence (AI) system, dubbed “Adam,” on Monday.

The chipmaker bills its self-driving platform as the world’s most advanced since it can execute 254 trillion operations per second (TOPS). The firm collaborated with Nio to equip its 2022 ET7s will four Orin SoCs for maximum processing power and redundancy. While that might sound like overkill, its automotive processors will be put through their paces with the ET7.

Nio’s next-generation EV will feature 33 embedded sensors, 11 8-megapixel cameras, 5 millimeter-wave radars, and two positioning systems. The ¥448,000 ($69,000) smart sedan will also come standard with a high-resolution, long-range lidar sensor mounted to its roof. “Adam” will need 1,016 TOPS of processing power to collate data from so many different inputs rapidly.

At present, the ET7’s exact self-driving capabilities are unknown. In the past, the chipmaker said DRIVE is powerful enough to support full Level 5 vehicle autonomy. However, the company did not mention if Nio’s EV will launch with total independent operation features at launch.

Nvidia’s Collaboration with Li Auto and Xpeng

Nvidia revealed its DRIVE chips would also empower future EVs offered by Chinese manufacturers Li Auto and Xpeng. However, it did not offer as much information with those declarations as its partnership with Nio. Instead, it talked up its past successes with those two corporations.

Li Auto teamed with the chipmaker and Huizhou-based automotive electronics company, Desay SV, to build the vehicle AI for its Li Auto One SUV in 2019. The firm recorded a 530 percent increase in sales after giving its fleet an Orin upgrade. Pleased with those results, the corporation plans to use the DRIVE Orin in its forthcoming offerings.

Xpeng had a similar experience when utilizing Nvidia’s self-driving SOC in its XPilot autonomous operation system. The manufacturer deployed the DRIVE Xavier automotive processor in its 2020 P7 sports sedan EV to give it Level 3 autopilot functionality. Apparently, the company liked the results of the team up as the multinational development partnership will continue.

Building Valuable Relationships in China

Nvidia not offering much information on Li Auto, and Xpeng’s next-generation personal transports suggest they will not be available right away.

But the chipmaker will benefit from establishing ongoing supply deals with the three Chinese providers. In 2020, the trio moved over 100,000 EVs in their domestic market, double their 2019 sales.

Last month, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers forecasted that 1.8 million non-gas powered transports would be sold in the region this year, up 40 percent year-over-year. Given their recent success, Nio, Li Auto, and Xpeng will probably represent a significant part of that number.

That means Nvidia will push the autonomous vehicle field forward and expand its footprint in the world’s largest auto market.

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