There was big news today from Google, Apple, Volvo, and Nvidia regarding their self-driving efforts.
Google parent Alphabet's Waymo has selected Avis to service its growing fleet of driverless cars.
It now seems Waymo has all of the pieces in place to offer Level 4 fleet services — Waymo adds its self-drive tech to car models you can already buy, such as its existing fleet of Chrysler Pacifica minivans, and Avis offers Uber-like ride-hailing services, possibly through Zipcar. The question now remains when and where legislation catches up with Level 4 ride-hailing service business models: when you can take a nap, read book, and remain in the back seat as the driverless car takes you want to go.
And within hours of the Waymo/Avis announcement, Bloomberg reported Apple has formed a partnership with Avis-rival Hertz under which Apple is licensing a fleet of Lexus RX450h models from Hertz for driverless tests.
Volvo says it will jump ahead of everybody else by selling Level 4 cars by 2021 (BMW says it will only have Level 3 ready by that time). It will use Nvidia's chips and a neural network computer platform to do that.
Volvo's announcement is one of three Nvidia has made this week ahead of Automobil Elektronik Kongress conference in Germany. There, Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang will speak about what an Nvidia spokesperson said are "new automotive partnerships, including autonomous vehicles and corporate AI solutions." The announcements tie ups with ZF and Hella and with Volkswagen.
The agreement with Volkswagen is more open-ended — Volkswagen will work with Nvidia to offer deep machine learning technology to third parties, including startups. Volkswagen, like everybody else, is developing driverless systems using Nvidia neural networking technology, while how it will team up with the chip giant to market jointly developed tech remains to be seen. Stay tuned for more on that when Nvidia's Huang gives his talk next week.