Self-Driving Cars

Tech alliances grow stronger in the self-driving car war

Three chip companies – Intel Corp’s Mobileye, Qualcomm Inc and Nvidia Corp – emerged from a series of announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas as the leaders in brain-locking self-driving cars for the next decade.

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Mastery of technology and data are areas of tension between automakers and tech companies

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Major automakers like General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and Volvo Cars this week deepened ties with key technology partners to prepare for the fight against electric car challenger Tesla Inc and Apple Inc as it accelerates to enter the market. Three chip companies – Intel Corp’s Mobileye, Qualcomm Inc and Nvidia Corp – emerged from a series of announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas as the leaders in brain-locking self-driving cars for the next decade. The deals involve consolidating dozens of older, slower chips into more powerful centralized computers. But to win them, chipmakers had to agree to let automakers control key pieces of technology.

Reuters previously reported that Apple is planning an electric car. Bloomberg reported last year that the iPhone maker was aiming for full self-driving capabilities as early as 2025. For automakers facing Apple and Tesla, the stakes are high. In addition to electrifying their models, automakers are essentially designing computers with increasing self-driving capabilities. This means a big opportunity for automakers to make money from in-car software and services long after vehicles have rolled off a dealer’s lot, but only if they can maintain customer relationships. and data for themselves, as Tesla and Apple do.

Automakers “that haven’t been the pioneers are finally realizing they’re going to be left behind if they don’t change their approach,” said Danny Shapiro, vice president of automotive at Nvidia, a high-power chipmaker. . . Nvidia this week announced deals to supply the electronic brains for future models of several Chinese electric vehicle startups, and is working with other automakers including Mercedes, Hyundai Motor Co, Volvo and Audi.

Technology and data control are areas of tension between automakers and tech companies, Shapiro said. “Control and personalization, and who owns the data?” The answer is complex because of the staggering amount of technology needed to make cars drive themselves. These include computer vision algorithms to help cameras recognize pedestrians, sprawling high-definition maps of the world’s roads, and “driving policy” software to make millisecond decisions about how the car must behave in the face of the unexpected.

For chipmakers, that means having all aspects of the technology ready, but being willing to let customers choose. Qualcomm Inc, for example, spent $4.5 billion last year to buy Veoneer Inc to complete all the software needed to complement its self-driving car chips. But after winning its first major stand-alone chip deal with GM this week, those software assets won’t be included because GM owns its own.

“Our software stack is developed entirely in-house, so we’re not taking their pieces,” said Jason Ditman, chief engineer of GM’s upcoming “Ultra Cruise” hands-free driving product. But for other automakers, Qualcomm needs to have all the elements of an autonomous driving system, said Nakul Duggal, senior vice president and general manager of automotive at the chip company. “Different automakers find themselves at different stages of readiness,” he said. “What’s critical for the automaker is that they have to be able to build a relationship with the customer they’re trying to acquire.”

A similar dynamic is at play in Mobileye’s relationship with Ford, which deepened this week. Mobileye provided its camera, chip and self-driving software as an all-in-one product. Now, Mobileye will begin to separate some of its system’s functions and allow Ford to build its own technology on top of it. “We provide all outputs to Ford, and they will run their own algorithms on top of our outputs,” Mobileye chief executive Amnon Shashua told Reuters.

Chip companies have no choice but to be more flexible as they face their own significant competitors. Automakers had relied on three main suppliers for the simpler semiconductors that controlled combustion engines – Infineon, Renesas and NXP, said Phil Amsrud, principal analyst at IHS Markit.

But the market for chip companies supplying high-powered computers to automakers is relatively crowded, including Chinese firms such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and computer vision company Ambarella Inc that are getting into the automotive business.

“We’re at a point where maybe we’re getting too many suppliers,” Amsrud said. “If you look at the automobile traditionally, there have never been more than a handful.”

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Reuters previously reported that Apple is planning an electric car. Bloomberg reported last year that the iPhone maker was aiming for full self-driving capabilities as early as 2025. For automakers facing Apple and Tesla, the stakes are high. In addition to electrifying their models, automakers are essentially designing computers with increasing self-driving capabilities. This means a big opportunity for automakers to make money from in-car software and services long after vehicles have rolled off a dealer’s lot, but only if they can maintain customer relationships. and data for themselves, as Tesla and Apple do.

Source: https://www.uktimenews.com/tech-alliances-grow-stronger-in-the-self-driving-car-war/

Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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