Audi is working with American technology firm Nvidia on an artificial intelligence (AI) car, which will be on the road by 2020, according to the two companies.
Announcing the news at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the partnership aims to have Audi models with Level 4 autonomy – full autonomy outside extreme scenarios – by the end of the decade, which is relatively aggressive compared to some German rivals which have tabled 2025 for the arrival of such cars.
Using Nvidia’s artificial intelligence technology, the firms are showcasing the possibilities with a Q7 test car in the car park of CES, which has learned to drive itself in four days. Commenting on the experiment, Audi USA boss Scott Keogh said: “This is really huge.
“We’re talking highly automated vehicles in numerous situations. This will be in production by 2020.”
The Q7 concept drives itself by means of a front camera with two-megapixel resolution, and the camera communicates with an Nvidia processing unit, which in turn controls the steering with high precision, according to Audi.
Keough described Audi as liking to “compete and innovate” and referenced the changing culture with autonomous driving, saying: “These are big societal changes we can make together.”
An Nvidia spokesman commented: “We want to turn your car into an AI and revolutionise the automobile and bring joy and safety to millions of people.”
Audi and Nvidia have worked together for nine years, with the latter's processors helping improve visual displays in Audi models. This year's new A8 will use Nvidia tech to support the latest Virtual Cockpit.
An Audi spokesman told Autocar: "The next phase in the development of Audi piloted driving will be introduced by the all-new A8 which will make its debut later this year. From the luxury segment the technology will gradually percolate through the range, and we will maintain this logical top-down approach for each new evolutionary milestone."
He added: "The Audi philosophy is absolutely not to replace drivers by introducing ‘robot cars’ – we want to liberate our customers from the parts of the experience which are perhaps not so enjoyable while leaving them free to enjoy the many parts that are, which is why we are focusing initially on assistants for congested traffic and difficult parking situations."
Nvidia also announced a number of other partnerships at CES, including with German engineering firm Bosch and Audi, BMW and Daimler-owned mapping company Here.
It also highlighted new technology for autonomous cars, such as tracking a driver’s gaze so a car knows when a person doesn’t have their eyes on the road, and lip reading to 95% accuracy.