VW, suppliers form alliance to help standardize self-driving car tech

Volkswagen Group Sedric concept, 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show

As numerous automakers and technology companies continue to race toward the commercialization of self-driving cars, some fear a lack of standardization will harm innovation. The Volkswagen Group and a number of suppliers hope to remedy that with a new alliance.

Called the Networking for Autonomous Vehicles Alliance (NAV), the VW Group along with Aquantia Corp., Nvidia, Bosch and Continental will work to provide a common path for future self-driving car technology. Specifically, the alliance will focus on data transmission, (subscription required) reported Tuesday. Data will reign supreme as self-driving cars implement more sensors, radar, and lidar components.

The alliance laid out five goals that it hopes to achieve. Foremost, the group wants a consensus on specs for new technologies related to data transfers. But, the goals expand to testing procedures for safety and security; promoting of products that meet standard specs; promoting standardization with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; and educating the market about requirements for self-driving cars and their networks.

Volkswagen Group Sedric concept, 2017 Geneva auto show

None of the work is sexy by any means, but VW and the suppliers agreed a linear path forward will help keep costs down for every automaker and supplier as technology advances.

Work has already begun at each supplier. Aquantia now provides high-speed connectivity for self-driving cars to send more data with fewer copper wires per vehicle. Meanwhile, Bosch and Nvidia are working together on an onboard computer for autonomous vehicles that employs artificial intelligence. VW will ultimately supply crucial hardware for the systems.

VW is also working on its own self-driving technology and debuted a concept of a self-driving car at the 2017 Geneva auto show. Named Sedric, the concept boasts 360-degree lidar sensors, long and short-distance radar and ultrasound sensors, a powerful computer for data processing, and an advanced software system with artificial intelligence. The specs mirror technology the suppliers are working on today. A production version is slated to arrive around 2021, and NAV will ideally ensure VW sticks to its timeline.

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