Volvo's self-driving trucks will have some familiar hardware under the hood. The automaker has signed a deal with NVIDIA that will use the chip company's Drive platform to "train, test and deploy" a slew of large self-driving vehicles that include buses, freight trucks, mining trucks and beyond. They'll both build on NVIDIA's hardware platform and use its software to handle everything from sensor data through to path planning.
Work will start "immediately," Volvo said. Staff from Volvo and NVIDIA will even share workspace at their respective headquarters in Gothenburg and Santa Clara. There's no timetable for when you can expect to see the first fruits of the partnership on a road near you.
To some degree, this is about fast-tracking Volvo's work to keep up with the competition. Waymo is testing self-driving big rigs, while a more direct rival like Daimler wants its autonomous trucks on the road within a decade. The NVIDIA team-up could save Volvo from doing as much work as it would if it had to develop systems largely from scratch.
Moreover, driverless trucks would simply be good business for Volvo. They can run around the clock without stopping for anything other than recharge or refill, and they'd be particularly helpful for mundane tasks like navigating some bus routes and offloading cargo. The sooner Volvo can get these vehicles on the road, the more trucks it can sell to companies that might have otherwise held back.