General Motors, Toyota and software firm Arm Holdings have formed a new technology consortium to help speed up the development of autonomous vehicles and establish a common technology platform on which to develop future autonomous vehicles.
The consortium, called the Autonomous Vehicle Computing Consortium (AVCC), also includes major automotive industry suppliers Bosch, Denso Corp and Continental AG, and semiconductor companies NVIDIA and NXP Semiconductors.
In a statement, GM said the “massive amount of technological innovation required to power fully self-driving vehicles at scale requires collaboration at an industry level,” suggesting the automaker wants more OEMs to join the consortium and contribute to the development of the new standardized hardware platform.
In addition to helping establish a common hardware platform on which to develop self-driving vehicles, AVCC hopes to rapidly develop smaller chips to be used in the vehicles. The hardware arrays currently being used in prototype self-driving vehicles, such as Cruise’s Bolt-based AV, are very large, often taking up huge amounts of space in the vehicle’s trunk and in some cases, even extending into the passenger compartment. In order to make AVs truly viable, these systems will have to become much smaller. Such large arrays are also extremely power-hungry, sapping energy from the vehicle’s batteries in which they sit. This is obviously a major problem for companies like Cruise, which have battery-electric self-driving vehicles with already limited range.
“I just came back from trips in the U.S. and China and had the opportunity to ride in four different types of autonomous vehicles,” Arm’s Vice President of Automotive Operations Chet Babla told Reuters for its report. “They were great prototype platforms for proving the software, but when I asked to look at the electronics powering these vehicles, it literally was servers in trunks. We’ve got a long way to go.”
Reuters‘ report says AVCC will be funded via membership fees from the companies that join it. It’s not clear how much GM paid to climb aboard the committee, but with self-driving technology believed to be the future of ride-hailing and transportation in major metropolitan areas, the automaker likely sees the cost of admission as being well worth it. Joining the AVCC will give it access to the smaller, more advanced proprietary hardware the consortium develops, hopefully speeding up the development of its Cruise AV vehicles and enabling it to finally launch its self-driving taxi service on U.S. roads.