Nvidia and Mercedes-Benz announce AI tech for cars coming in 2024

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang and Mercedes-Benz AG CEO Ola Kallenius announced plans during an online event for a cooperative agreement to build AI-capable cars by late 2024.(Nvidia)

Nvidia and Mercedes-Benz announced plans on Tuesday for an in-vehicle computing and AI automated driving infrastructure for 2024 vehicles.

The companies plan to enter a cooperative agreement that will be multi-year and valued at multiple billions of dollars in scope, Nvidia CEO  Jensen Huang said in a livestreamed announcement with Mercedes-Benz AG CEO Ola Kallenius. Hundreds of engineers from both companies will be involved.

The partnership will create cars that could last 10 to 20 years with constant software updates downloadable from the cloud and paid for by customers over the two decades. 

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The vaunted Mercedes-Benz reputation for styling could mean that a 20-year-old car with constant software updates could become a classic worth more than when it was purchased, Huang said.  Those older vehicles would still be able to accept software upgrades for second owners, which would expand the Mercedes-Benz customer base.

The software-defined architecture , built on the Nvidia Drive platform, will allow state-of-the-art functions like  automated driving of a regular route along with safety and convenience applications.  Mercedes-Benz first worked with Nvidia on an in-vehicle infotainment platform two years ago called MBUX in which users can download for a fee features like music and live driving information.

 Huang credited Tesla for introducing the software-defined model for future cars, but said the cooperation with Mercedes-Benz will go further and take advantage of Mercedes-Benz’s global scale for production and design prowess, marketing and its huge customer base.  “Tesla deserves credit for software upgrades…but we’re going to take it one giant step forward,” Huang said.

Kallenius described the partnership as developing from the “baby steps” with Nvidia on infotainment. “We’re on a journey here. Technology has provided the opportunity to change the business model.,” he said.

The vehicles will be built with the most powerful computer available at its time with an excess of capacity, Huang said.

Kallenius said reports that Mercedes-Benz is ending a project announced last year to develop robo-taxis with Bosch are not completely accurate.  “Let’s call it a pause, not an end,” he said.  “It’s a timing issue and we decided to do this [project with Nvidia] towards the end of 2024.” 

Mercedes-Benz will continue to work on another project for fully autonomous trucks going hub to hub.  “The robotaxis we see more to the right,” he said.

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