Autonomous trucking company TuSimple is preparing to evolve its autonomous driving technology using Nvidia’s latest system on a chip (SoC), Drive Orin, the company announced at CES. The chip, specifically designed for stand-alone applications, will deliver the rugged, compact, fuel-efficient and auto-grade computing power needed to accelerate TuSimple’s race to bring its autonomous trucks to market.
The relationship between Nvidia and TuSimple has been going on for years, with Nvidia leading the B-series of TuSimple in 2017. Drive Orin is part of Nvidia’s Hyperion 8, a production-ready platform that includes the necessary sensors, calculations and software. to AV development, which hit the market in November. While TuSimple will choose its own sensors and use in-house software, it will rely on Drive Orin’s SoC to co-develop its Autonomous Domain Control (ADC), the central computing unit of the truck.
The ADC hosts TuSimple’s virtual piloting software, takes inputs from all the different sensors and gives outputs as commands to different parts of the truck to control it, according to TuSimple CEO and President Cheng Lu. Drive Orin has sufficient computing power and is compact enough to help TuSimple accelerate its ability to scale autonomous trucks to scale on its autonomous freight network.
âWithout an automatic grade ADC, it’s not possible for an OEM or a standalone tech player to have full-scale production of AV trucks on the road,â Lu told TechCrunch. âToday we are using prototype systems that are expensive and less reliable. It works for a small batch of vehicles, but would not work when you make large scale OEM integrated AV trucks.
Last week, TuSimple completed its first fully autonomous, driverless truck pilot on I-10 in Arizona, a step that brings the company a step closer to scaling its technology into specially designed trucks in the US. over the next three years. TuSimple plans to build semi-trucks specially designed for autonomous applications by 2024 in partnership with Navistar and the Traton Group, the heavy-duty business of Volkswagen AG, but Lu says the collaboration with Nvidia is independent of production programs. with these OEMs and has not commented on what ADC the company will use in these trucks.
According to TuSimple, the Orin SoC Drive delivers 254 trillion operations per second of performance, including perception, planning and actuation functions. In addition to this most critical hardware component of ADC, Nvidia brings to the partnership a good understanding of the design and placement of chips in a compute enclosure to make them run more efficiently, says Lu. TuSimple is integrated into ADC, the company provides requirements such as specific computing needs, sensors and power consumption.
âTogether, we are making a plan of what the entire ADC should be from a hardware standpoint, and a third-party manufacturer will produce and assemble a complete ADC,â Lu said.
TuSimple has usage rights, which include certain limited “first-time” provisions, over the ADC Reference Design, according to a company statement.