When it comes to EV news, Tesla seems to get a lot of the media attention. The reasons are pretty obvious: Tesla’s not only ahead of everyone else on EVs and charging infrastructure, but it was the impetus for everyone else getting (back) into it in the first place. So, it’s only natural that the company gets much of the attention. But sometimes Tesla news sucks a lot of the air out of the room, and we missed an announcement from BMW earlier this month with big implications for autonomous and assisted vehicles.
Before we get into BMW’s announcement, let’s talk a bit about what Tesla’s doing in that space so we can compare it to BMW’s approach to big iron.
Tesla’s Dojo is a supercomputer specifically designed and constructed by Tesla for computer vision video processing and recognition. It serves the purpose of training Tesla’s machine learning algorithms to improve and enhance the capabilities of its autonomous vehicles. The supercomputer is capable of handling high volumes of data and performing complex computations at an extraordinary speed, which is crucial for training the advanced AI models used in self-driving cars.
The Dojo supercomputer represents a significant investment by Tesla and is expected to play a pivotal role in its pursuit of autonomous driving technology. By utilizing Dojo’s immense computing power, Tesla aims to accelerate the development and deployment of its self-driving technology, enabling its vehicles to better perceive and navigate the world around them.
Unlike traditional supercomputers, Tesla’s Dojo is specifically optimized for video data processing, making it uniquely suited for training neural networks that analyze visual information. This specialization allows the supercomputer to efficiently handle the massive amounts of video data generated by Tesla’s fleet of autonomous vehicles during their daily operations.
By investing in its own supercomputer infrastructure, Tesla seeks to overcome the challenges posed by the limited availability of powerful processors from external suppliers, such as Nvidia. The development of Dojo reflects Tesla’s commitment to vertical integration and its strategy to build key technologies in-house.
Overall, the Dojo supercomputer represents a paradigm shift in the field of supercomputing and reaffirms Tesla’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of AI and autonomous driving technology. With its exceptional computational capabilities, Tesla’s Dojo aims to propel the company closer to achieving its vision of fully autonomous vehicles.
But, it’s taking Tesla a lot of work and money to make this happen, and other companies need to not only start their own efforts, but also try to take any safe shortcut they can to catch up. Ford has a good start on this with its Blue Cruise efforts as well as Latitude AI, the remnants of Argo AI, a former joint effort with Volkswagen to develop autonomous vehicles. GM has its Cruise division, a company already operating robotaxis, albeit in limited areas.
So, BMW had a tough choice to make. Would it team up with someone else to develop autonomous and driver assist technology, at great expense? Would Ford or GM let it join up? Or, was there any way to go it alone, and fast?
BMW ended up taking a completely different approach to partnerships.
Earlier this month, Amazon Web Services (AWS) was chosen by the BMW Group as its preferred cloud provider for its automated driving platform. Leveraging AWS, BMW Group will develop its next-generation advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) to introduce innovative features in its upcoming vehicles, known as the “Neue Klasse,” slated for launch in 2025.
With the power of AWS compute, generative artificial intelligence (generative AI), Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, and storage capabilities, this new cloud-based system aims to accelerate the delivery of highly automated BMW vehicles. This collaboration will build upon BMW’s existing Cloud Data Hub on AWS, ensuring a seamless integration of their technologies.
“In the next decade, consumer habits and expectations will drive more changes in the automotive industry than we’ve seen over the past 30 years,” said Dr. Nicolai Martin, senior vice president of Driving Experience at BMW Group. “This is just the beginning of a new era of highly automated driving, fueled by innovations in technology and engineering. By collaborating with AWS, the BMW Group, along with our partner, Qualcomm Technologies, is building our new automated driving platform on AWS’s scalable, secure, and reliable infrastructure. We’re tapping into AWS’s ability to help empower the next generation of BMW’s automated driving and parking functions.”
ADAS enhances the driving experience by equipping drivers with early warning systems and features that promote safety and comfort. These cutting-edge systems utilize sophisticated software and onboard sensors to deliver driver alerts, automated braking, and steering functions, all aimed at enhancing a vehicle’s performance on the road. This category of vehicle technology can include anything from a simple automatic emergency braking system to systems that are comparable to Tesla’s Autopilot, but wouldn’t include fully autonomous vehicles. But they can serve as stepping stones to that.
By developing the next iteration of the ADAS platform on AWS, BMW Group’s engineers hope to swiftly respond to customer needs and introduce new features that elevate the driving experience. This improved efficiency, supported by the cloud’s capabilities, will empower BMW to continue innovating for its Neue Klasse vehicles, while also prioritizing driver focus on the road ahead.
And BMW can do this without having to build its own compute clusters the way Tesla does.
BMW Group has partnered with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. to co-develop cutting-edge automated driving systems using the Snapdragon Ride Platform. These advanced systems incorporate the Ride Vision software stack, enabling comprehensive 360-degree perception for vehicles.
By collaborating with AWS and Qualcomm Technologies, BMW Group’s engineers have access to top-notch hardware, vision software, and cloud capabilities, all integrated into an end-to-end automated driving development platform. By leveraging cloud-based technology, BMW Group aims to eliminate development silos within its vehicle software teams and foster global collaboration with suppliers, accelerating the pace of automated driving innovation.
AWS services will play a crucial role in fueling a cutting-edge, scalable, and automated driving platform that is based on a unified reference architecture. This platform will accelerate the development lifecycle and expand its reach across various BMW models. For instance, the platform provides the necessary framework to efficiently process, organize, and store vast amounts of real-time driving data in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3).
On top of that, BMW says engineers and data scientists can seamlessly search, identify, and visualize relevant driving scenarios using Amazon SageMaker, AWS’s cloud and edge service for building, training, and deploying machine learning models. Additionally, engineers can leverage AWS compute instances to develop large-scale simulations for thorough verification. By adopting this approach, BMW Group can enhance the efficiency of testing and validating new software versions, ensuring the utmost safety and reducing time to market.
“Automated driving is about more than just convenience; it’s also aimed at providing driver assistance technology that helps prevents injuries and saves lives,” said Wendy Bauer, general manager of Automotive and Manufacturing at AWS. “Implementing these systems on the BMW Group’s international scale requires an approach that can process and analyze vast amounts of data, as well as learn and innovate, so automakers can develop safer and more reliable automated and ADAS systems. Working with AWS and Qualcomm Technologies, the BMW Group has the tools required to help make its vision of providing safe, premium quality, high performance, and highly automated driving functions to its customers a reality.”
Featured image provided by BMW.
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