16 October 2016
Tesla and Mobileye have ended their partnership for driver assistance functions in Tesla’s Autopilot. Now it seems that Tesla will replace Mobileye for Nvidia. In the future we will most likely be seeing Nvidia PX2 in Tesla models as a hardware component for Autopilot 2.0.
Since the love affair between Tesla and Mobileye reached an end, Tesla had to fill a huge image processing gap. There is evidence that Tesla had thought about developing its own system on chip (SoC) since the beginning of the year when they hired Jim Keller, a microprocessor engineer who had worked at AMD and Apple. But probably the lack of time waved this off. A few weeks ago Tesla announced to increase its partnership with Nvidia, and the development of ‘Tesla Vision’. More than just a SoC but an end-to-end computer vision framework.
The choice of Nvidia over Mobileye comes with the approval of many in the industry. The partnership with Nvidia is not new. Tesla already used the Tegra K1 processor is its model S and bought the PX, Nvidia’s first autonomous driving platform. Now the Nvidia PX2 in Tesla models will provide the carmaker with object recognition and image processing based on deep learning.
In comparison with Mobileye, Nvidia already had a much more capable SOC in Nvidia’s Parker, which had been specifically targeted at automotive autonomous vehicle and driver assistance applications. This makes Drive PX 2 the most powerful image processing unit for driver assistance available today. Another great advantage is would be the geographic proximity of Tesla and Nvidia in the Bay Area. Mobileye has its main offices in Israel and the Netherlands while Nvidia’s are literally just up the street.
For Nvidia the newly extended partnership is an amazing opportunity, but at the same time a big threat. First there is the short time frame. Nvidia implementation has to be ready in Tesla production cars by early 2017. Second there is the chance of Nvidia suffering the same faith as Mobileye. After the Tesla breakup the stock suffered tremendously. But although there is considerable risk for Nvidia, there is also a big payoff. If Drive PX 2 starts to be installed in Tesla’s S and X models (and eventually Model 3), Nvidia will have found a volume customer for Drive PX 2 for the first time. Instead of selling a few hundred units for development purposes, Nvidia would be selling tens of thousands every quarter
News tags: Tesla, Mobileye, Nvidia