Nvidia, ZF and Hella will team to ensure self-driving cars meet safety standards

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Auto industry suppliers ZF and Hella are welcoming a third strategic partner to their effort to bring self-driving systems to market for OEM clients. Nvidia is joining the two to help incorporate its own in-car AI technology in a self-driving system that meets the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) certification for passenger vehicles, and to also address safety requirements for commercial and off-road vehicles.

Hella builds camera systems, radar systems and other related software systems for ADAS-related tech, and ZF is one of the leading tier 1 suppliers in the car industry. Nvidia’s tech will be used to help bring systems to market that, starting with Level 3 autonomy (drivers can give over control but must be ready and able to resume manual driving at any moment) are properly certified according to the long-standing industry NCAP standards, which have governed consumer vehicles since their introduction in the 1970s.

“We’re now delivering across the whole spectrum of autonomous driving features,” explained Nvidia Senior Director of Automotive Danny Shapiro on a call. “What we’re doing is working with both ZF and Hella to bring NCAP safety certification to vehicles along with Level 3 type of [autonomous] driving systems, where in some cases you can do hands-free or feet-free driving.”

Shapiro said that ultimately, the crucial benefit to come out of this arrangement will be “a single platform from Nvidia can be connected to cameras to deliver NCAP certification and hands-free driving in certain circumstances.”

He added that Nvidia is “really excited that AI is having a transformative effect on the automotive industry in general,” including in NCAP-certified ADAS systems, since it means Nvidia’s AI computers will be in more cars, where they can then perform a range of functions over and above autonomous driving.

Nvidia’s tech could be use to potentially alert a driver to bring the car in for preventative or necessary maintenance, for instance. And there’s “no possible way for humans to sift through all this” he added, but a deep learning system based on Drive PX can be trained to sift massive amounts of data in real time.

“We’ll be playing a very active role in cybersecurity, we believe,” Shapiro said, adding that Nvidia can also “detect traffic patterns, detect congestion, optimize traffic flow and reduce congestion, work with infrastructure” once deployed at scale in more consumer vehicles.