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Published on March 18th, 2017 | by James Ayre


Nvidia, Bosch, & BMW Differ On Self-Driving Tech Timescales

March 18th, 2017 by  

The recent Bosch Connected World conference in Berlin saw speeches given by execs from Nvidia, Bosch, and BMW that made it clear just how divergent the companies’ timelines for self-driving vehicle tech are.

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang and his early Model X, as well as two Model S sedans in the garage.

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang commented that because of AI learning it may be the case that many auto manufacturers speed up their timelines for self-driving vehicles and they hit the market by 2025.

The exact comments were: “Because of deep learning, because of AI (artificial intelligence) computing, we’ve really supercharged our roadmap to autonomous vehicles.”

Perhaps more interestingly, Huang also stated that he expected Nvidia to have chips allowing for Level 3 self-driving features on the market by the end of 2017, and in consumer auto models by the end of 2018. Level 4 chips would then hit the market in 2019, and make it into consumer auto models by 2020.

Commenting on the need to use AI learning for the development of self-driving vehicle tech (Nvidia has been working in AI learning for a decade or so now), Huang stated: “No human could write enough code to capture the vast diversity and complexity that we do so easily, called driving.”

These comments were contrasted by those from Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner, who stated that it wasn’t clear when full autonomy would be achieved, and that Level 4 features (using its tech?) wouldn’t make it to market before 2025.

Denner noted: “Of course, we still have to prove that an autonomous car does better in driving and has less accidents than a human being.”

Reuters continues: “Together with Bosch executives, Huang presented a prototype AI on-board computer that is expected to go into production by the beginning of the next decade. The computer will use Nvidia’s processing power to interpret data gathered by Bosch sensors.”

The timelines discussed above also contrasted somewhat with the one referenced by the head of BMW’s self-driving tech unit. That exec stated that BMW was on track to bring a Level 3 self-driving auto model to market in 2021, and that Level 4 or Level 5 features could make it to market that year as well.

He stated: “We believe we have the chance to make level three, level four and level five doable.”

How do all of these timelines compare to those of the other industry players? It’s hard to say exactly, as there’s a lot of secrecy involved, but Waymo (Google), Ford, Volvo, Audi, GM/Cruise, and Uber are all claiming that it’s only a matter of a couple of years time. (Though, Uber now has legal problems that seem likely to get in the way of its stated goals.)

And what about Tesla? Well, the company is claiming that a fully autonomous trip from New York to California will be undertaken sometime this year, and the company’s new models are now all outfitted with a hardware suite allowing for fully autonomous travel (all that’s holding things up is the software).

So, if company execs are to be believed, fully autonomous travel is likely to be possible within 1–2 years in a Tesla. It seems likely, though, that the driver/owner will still be expected to maintain oversight and remain liable for any accidents that could occur while using the tech, owing to likely regulatory holdups.


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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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