Volvo will use Nvidia AI chip in next-gen SPA2 platform

Nvidia Drive AGX Xavier

Volvo is the latest automaker to announce plans to integrate Nvidia’s powerful Drive AGX chips in its cars.

Volvo said Wednesday that Nvidia’s Drive AGX Xavier chip will be the basis of the core computer that features in the next-generation SPA modular platform, which has been dubbed SPA2 and expected to offer Volvo’s first fully self-driving system.

The Swedish automaker will offer a Level 4 self-driving system in 2021. Level 4 means the system can drive on its own but only in specific conditions. A Level 5 self-driving system can handle all situations expected of a human driver.

Nvidia’s Drive AGX chips are designed to support self-driving capability, which Volvo and Nvidia have been working together on since last year. Thanks to deep learning, a form of artificial intelligence, as well as sensor fusion capabilities, the chips can analyze data coming from various sensors and calculate safe and robust instructions for a vehicle all in real-time.

While the Drive AGX Xavier chip can complete 30 trillion operations per second, Nvidia also has a more powerful Drive AGX Pegasus chip that can complete 320 trillion operations per second. This more advanced chip, which Bosch and Daimler have chosen, will be necessary for Level 5 self-driving systems.

“A successful launch of autonomous drive will require an enormous amount of computing power as well as constant advances in artificial intelligence,” Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson said. “Our agreement with Nvidia is an important piece of that puzzle and helps us to safely introduce fully autonomous Volvo cars to our customers.”

The SPA2 platform will underpin Volvo’s larger models and is expected to make its debut in a redesigned XC90 due in 2021. The current SPA platform is found in Volvo’s 60 and 90 series cars.

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Volvo said the SPA2 platform takes the best bits of the current SPA platform and adds the latest technologies in the areas of electrification, connectivity and self-driving capability. The use of Nvidia’s Drive AGX will play a key role in this process and will also provide a much easier route toward regular over-the-air software updates, the automaker added.

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