Auto parts and tire manufacturer Continental announced in February 2018 that it is partnering with Nvidia to create full-scale self-driving cars. Continental provides the hardware, while Nvidia adds its microchips, processors and software. Together, the Nvidia and Continental partnership for self-driving cars aims to market their products to automakers and other clients. The products range from basic autonomous features, such as advanced cruise control, to fully autonomous vehicles without a steering wheel or floor pedals.
Nvidia already has strong partnerships in the self-driving car industry with automakers Volvo, Audi, Toyota, Volkswagen and Baidu. Continental, based in Germany, plans to have an autonomous vehicle drive across the U.S.-Canadian border in a partnership with parts manufacturer Magna.
Both of these firms are well versed in self-driving car technology, so this partnership makes perfect sense for Nvidia and Continental. The plan is to make a scalable, road-ready autonomous vehicle by 2021. Rather than build a car from scratch, Continental wants to market its customizable hardware to cars already on the market. For example, if Ford wants adaptive cruise control on all of its new vehicles in 2020, it can use a system developed by Continental to outfit the cars. This marketing ploy is right in Continental’s wheelhouse. Instead of supplying sparkplugs, tires and transmissions to carmakers, it wants to supply a self-driving platform with a bevy of features. Continental has the sensor systems, lidar and other hardware to make this project happen.
Nvidia has the AI technology and software clout to make Continental’s hardware work together and with each carmaker’s models. Nvidia already has the inside scoop on five major world car manufacturers. It wouldn’t take much for Nvidia to expand its market share into other countries and car manufacturers.
It’s a logical step that this partnership could pay off when new car models arrive on the test track. Continental and Nvidia have a lot to prove, because there is already fierce competition to get ahead in the self-driving car market. Just look at the Waymo-Uber intellectual property lawsuit that is heading to court in 2018 as an example of the challenges that the Continental and Nvidia self-driving car partnership faces.