Global autonomous driving technology company, TuSimple Holdings has announced its partnership with California-based American multinational technology company, Nvidia Corp to use the Nvidia chips to design and build advanced ‘autonomous driving computer’ for its self-driving trucks.
The autonomous driving computer known as a ‘domain controller’ in the automotive industry, will be distinctively engineered for use on TuSimple’s commercial self-driving trucks, while also powering sensor perception and vehicle operation.
Nvidia on its part will provide artificial intelligence expertise, together with its Drive Orin hardware, a chip indicatively designed for autonomous driving capabilities.
The Nvidia chip powered controller will then be installed in the self—driving autonomous trucks TuSimple is currently building in partnership with manufacturer Navistar, targeted for production in 2024.
The Chief Executive Officer of TuSimple, Cheng Lu in a statement acknowledging the deal said:
“We believe this move provides us a significant competitive advantage in speeding time to market”.
TuSimple further announced that the company will own usage rights to the controller’s design, noting that it is planning to partner with another third party manufacturer for its production.
Controllers, known to be very crucial to the development of self-driving automobiles, allows automakers the leverage of centralizing compute-intensive instruments such as cameras, radars and lidar sensors.
Rather than allowing each sensor to have its own individual electronic control unit, the domain controller does the computation of tasks centrally, in the process saving cost and space, while allowing remote updates of the software’s.
The autonomous industry has in recent years shifted its focus on the use of self-driving freight trucks, while operating largely in pilot projects, while it has faced lesser regulatory and technological hurdles, potentially offering a faster way to generate returns than passenger robotaxis.
Tusimple had late last year completed its first No-Human Road test after its semi-truck completed a whooping 80-mile trip to Arizona with no human on board and no human intervention.
The semi-truck successfully navigated highway lane changes, traffic signals, on-ramps and off-ramps while ‘naturally interacting with other motorists’, with the company affirming that the drivers represent an approximate 40 percent of all trucking operational costs, adding that its virtual driver “can be operated for significantly less”, while also estimating that its technology saves about 10% on fuel-related costs compared to human-driven trucks.