A Look at Different AV Software Platform Design Wins

Article By : Egil Juliussen

There have been a lot of recent design wins for many of the AV platform companies. The pandemic impact has made it clear that those AV software platform developers are looking at multiple AV use-cases.

There have been a lot of recent design wins for many of the autonomous vehicle software (AV) platform companies. “Design wins” means agreements between the AV platform developers and companies that will use the AV platform in a planned vehicle or service. Previously I wrote separate columns on autonomous trucks (Who Will Be Needing Autonomous Trucks? )  and robotaxis (Robotaxis: Where Are We?) with figures showing relationships between AV platforms and their potential and existing customers.

The pandemic impact has made it clear that many of the AV software platform developers are looking at multiple AV use-cases. Hence, I have made a single figure that combines the autonomous trucks, goods AV and robotaxi software platforms and their known design-wins. I was not able to get every AV software platform into the following figure, but it is a good overview of current status. At the bottom right of the next figure, I included a block of “other AV platforms” that covers most AV platform that are not detailed in the figure. Key fixed-route AV software platforms are also included.

The AV software platform companies are the red blocks; each has a two-letter code of which AV use-cases they are developing for. AT is for autonomous trucks, FR is for fixed route AVs, GAV is for goods AVs and RT is for robotaxis. The car or light truck OEMs are the black boxes while truck OEMs are in blue boxes. Logistics and fleet operators are the black boxes at the bottom of the figure. At the top in green boxes are the robotaxi companies. Note that I include several car OEMs and AV software platform players in the robotaxi category. I will primarily write about the AV software platform companies.

Key: AT — autonomous trucks. FR — fixed route AVs. GAV — goods AVs. RT — robotaxis. Click on the image to enlarge. (Source: Egil Juliussen)

AV software platforms
The AV software platform companies are in the red blocks with red arrows to their “design-win” customers and/or their name in red in the customer blocks.

Waymo is doing well with multiple car OEM and one truck OEM design-wins. Waymo’s car OEM design-wins include Volvo cars, Nissan, Renault and at least part of Stellantis. Stellantis is the new name of the merger of PSA and Fiat-Chrysler. Waymo and Fiat have been partners for several years. Waymo got a design-win with Daimler in October 2020. Daimler owns two truck brands (Freightliner and Western Star in the U.S.) and also sells trucks under the Mercedes Benz brand in Europe and other regions.

Waymo is also operating its Waymo One robotaxi business in Phoenix area and has plans to expand to San Francisco and other cities in California.

Cruise has two major OEM design-wins with GM and Honda. Cruise has been testing robotaxis in San Francisco and is expected to start a robotaxi service soon. Cruise was testing food deliveries during the pandemic and is likely to get future customers for goods delivery use-cases. Cruise received $2 billion in new investment in January 2021 including Microsoft VC funding. As part of the Microsoft agreement, Cruise will us Microsoft Azure for SaaS and cloud services including Cruise’s future robotaxi and other MaaS activities. The Microsoft partnership also extend to GM with Azure becoming GM’s preferred cloud provider. After the investment, Cruise has an impressive valuation at around $30 billion. In March 2021, Cruise acquired Voyage, a 60-person startup focused on fixed route MaaS use-cases. It looks like Cruise mostly looked for additional expertise and manpower for its own expansion.

Aurora has been busy in the last six months and has gained several design wins. Aurora has gotten two truck OEM design-wins, Volvo in late March 2021 and Paccar in January 2021. Paccar has two U.S. truck bands — Peterbilt and Kenworth. Aurora’s partnership with Toyota and Denso is quite important as Toyota is the second largest OEM. By the end of 2021, Aurora plans to deploy a fleet of Sienna minivans with its Aurora Driver. The minivans will see future deployment as robotaxis in Uber’s ride-hailing fleet and possibly in other MaaS fleets.

Aurora has an investment from Hyundai, and this may lead to future design-win for Hyundai and/or Kia, depending on how Hyundai leverage its Motional robotaxi development. Since Aurora acquired Uber ATG in December 2020, Uber is expected to use Aurora’s AV platform for robotaxis.

Argo continues to develop an AV platform for two major OEMs—Ford and VW. The latest Argo news is that it is considering an IPO or a SPAC IPO as early as this year. Ford is expected to use Argo for future robotaxis and/or goods AVs.

On April 12, 2021, Mobileye announced its self-driving system for MaaS use-cases has reached commercial availability. The brand name is Mobileye Drive and is based on three core technologies—REM, RSS and two independent perception subsystems called True Redundancy.

Road Experience Management (REM) leverages crowdsourced data from millions of ADAS equipped autos in-use. Responsibility-Sensitive Safety (RSS) is Mobileye’s driving policy technology that provides a formal model for safe driving decisions. True Redundancy utilizes vision sensing technology that combine two independent perception subsystems – a camera sub-system that provides full autonomous driving and a radar-lidar subsystem that has the same capabilities.

Mobileye also announced that Udelv will use Mobileye Drive for a new electric delivery AV, called Transporter. Fleets of Transporters will be deployed in 2023. Over 35,000 Mobileye-driven Transporters will be produced between 2023 and 2028. Pre-order of 1,000 Udelv Transporters has been announced by Donlen, one of America’s largest commercial fleet leasing and management companies.

Mobileye is currently testing robotaxis in Israel in a joint venture with VW. An early riders’ program will start in 2021 and a driverless robotaxi pilot will start in 2022 upon regulatory approval.

Mobileye is planning MaaS testing in Paris, France in the Spring of 2021. Mobileye plans to deploy autonomous shuttles with Transdev ATS and Lohr Group beginning in Europe. Future expansion to multiple European countries is planned.

Mobileye is collaborating with Willer Group, a Japanese company focused on public transit and MaaS. Willer and Mobileye is targeting commercial launch in Osaka in 2023. They are planning future expansion to Singapore and other cities in Southeast Asia. Mobileye is also planning MaaS testing in Daegu in South Korea by mid-2021.

Nvidia has a large number of design-wins for its GPU-based AV hardware platforms—at least 30 leading car and truck OEMs, AV startups and Tier 1 suppliers, which are not included in the above figure. Many of the AV software platform companies use Nvidia AV hardware including Aurora, AutoX, Nuro, Navya, Pony.ai, TuSimple, Yandex, Zoox and others.

In June 2020, Nvidia and Mercedes-Benz announced plans to develop AV platform applications that include L2, L3 and L4 with availability starting in 2024.

Freightliner said its Inspiration Truck is the first licensed autonomous commercial truck to operate on an open public highway in the United States. (Source: Freightliner)

AutoX started paid driverless robotaxi service in Shenzhen in January 2021. It is a limited service for a small group that has been approved. AutoX is using Chrysler Pacifica minivans for the service. AutoX is testing AVs in six other Chinese cities with safety drivers. AutoX is also testing robotaxi service in parts of San Jose since mid-2019. AutoX received a California driverless AV testing permit in July 2020. AutoX has strong relations with two Chinese OEMs—Dongfeng and SAIC.

Momenta started pilot robotaxi operations in late 2020 in Suzhou, China, which will be expanded in 2021. The goal is to eliminate safety drivers of some proportion of vehicles in 2022.

In March 2021, Momenta received VC investment of $500 million for a total of over $700 million with participation from Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Bosch.

Pony.ai is conducting robotaxi tests on public roads in five cities in China and the U.S., with the combined testing mileage totaling 5M kilometers. Pony.ai has robotaxi fleets in Guangzhou and Guangdong province, and testing in Fremont and Irvine in California.

Pony.ai started testing autonomous trucks with a test permit in Guangzhou in December 2020. Pony.ai had raised over $1.1B in venture capital including $400 million from Toyota.

WeRide are developing an AV software platform for robotaxis and fixed route AVs. In January 2021, WeRide introduced driverless fixed route minibuses for testing on public roads in Guangzhou, Nanjing and Zhengzhou. The minibuses are made by Yutong.

WeRide launched a publicly accessible robotaxi service in Guangzhou in November 2019, covering an area of 144 square kilometers. By January 2021 WeRide topped four million autonomous kilometers. Over 100,000 people have experienced WeRide’s L4 AVs. WeRide has strategic relationship with Renault-Nissan.

TuSimple have the largest number of design-wins for autonomous trucks and logistics-fleet operators and there are probably additional customers in China. Two truck OEMs are TuSimple customers—VW Traton and Navistar. VW is in the process of acquiring Navistar. TuSimple’s logistics-fleet design-wins include US Xpress, Penske, McLane, Schneider, UPS and Werner.

TuSimple filed to go public in late March 2021. The IPO filing document provides much more information than we have on other AV software platform companies. Here are a few items:

  • TuSimple autonomous testing exceeded 2.8 million miles at year-end 2020.
  • It has 70 autonomous trucks globally.
  • It will provide L4 autonomous truck software to Navistar in 2024 for N. America market.
  • Cumulative revenue was $2.56 million at year-end 2020 ($1.84 million in 2020).
  • Over 240 core patents.
  • Total operating loss for 2020 was $177 million with cumulative loss at over $405 million.
  • R&D costs were $132 million in 2020 vs. $63.6 million in 2019.
  • First four months of accepting reservations: 5,700+ L4 reservations from ten customers.
  • 75% of reservations from customers who operate commercial truck fleets and are equity investors in TuSimple.

A future column on TuSimple and others that go public may be an interesting topic.

Plus has developed a software platform for autonomous trucks with testing in U.S. and China. Plus has two design-wins with truck OEMs—FAW and Iveco. FAW (formerly First Automobile Works) is a leading Chinese auto maker that manufactures cars, buses and trucks—small, medium and large. Iveco is an Italian truck maker that made an agreement in April 2021 to use Plus AV platform. Plus will integrate Iveco’s latest-generation S-WAY heavy-duty truck with the PlusDrive autonomous driving system.

Plus also has a design-win with a leading Chinese logistics company, SF Express, which is the second largest courier company in China. There are unverified reports that Plus is in talks to do a SPAC IPO.

Inseptio Technology
Inceptio showed two L3 truck models, co-developed with Chinese automakers Dongfeng and Sinotruk in March 2021, with deployment planned for end of 2021. It will install hardware capable of being L4 upgradeable. Inceptio plans to install its L3 technology in over 80,000 tractor-trailers in 2024. GLP is Singapore-based logistics firm and investor in Inceptio.

Other AV platforms
There are many other AV software platforms, and some are listed by name in a separate red block without any more details. There are five companies that focus on fixed route AV use-cases—EasyMile, Local Motors, May Mobility and Navya and Optimus Ride. Four companies are developing autonomous truck software platforms—Einride, Embark, Kodiak and Locomation. Nuro and Neolix are developing goods-only AV platforms for road travel while Starship use a sidewalk goods delivery AV. Gatik is focused on middle-mile goods delivery using small trucks or vans.

Car OEMs
Since the car OEMs are mention in AV software platform section, I will only add a few comments when OEMs have multiple options. It is likely that the car OEMs may use Chinese AV software platforms. For instance, Toyota has a $400 million investment in Pony.ai. A large number of European, Japanese and U.S. OEMs are participating in the Baidu Apollo AV ecosystem.

Hyundai has two options since it has a joint venture with Aptiv in Motional and an investment in Aurora. VW may also have two options with its major investment in Argo.ai and its joint venture with Mobileye in robotaxi testing in Israel. Toyota is likely to have multiple option with its recent cooperation with Aurora, but its Toyota Research Institute has extensive research effort that could lead to an AV software platform.

Truck OEMs & logistics & fleets
Truck OEMs have started signing up with AV software platform companies with seven deals as shown in the above figure. Another eight logistics and fleet operators have chosen partners. TuSimple is the clear leader with six design-wins. According to TuSimple’s IPO filing it is doing even better with orders from ten companies.

I also listed Udelv as it signed up to use Mobileye’s AV software platform for its last mile delivery vans.

The green blocks list many of the likely robotaxi operators. Waymo One is operating paid robotaxi services in Phoenix with most rides being driverless now. Motional has tested robotaxis with Lyft in Las Vegas with safety drivers and is planning driverless trials in the near future. It is not clear if Lyft will also use other robotaxi platforms.

Mobileye is testing robotaxi services in Israel and is planning to expand into cities in Europe, Asia and U.S. Yandex is testing robotaxi services in Russia with further expansion planned.

There are many other companies that are testing robotaxis that are likely to enter this market. Examples are AutoX, Baidu, Momenta, Pony.ai, WeRide and Yandex.

This article was originally published on EE Times.

Egil Juliussen has over 35 years’ experience in the high-tech and automotive industries. Most recently he was director of research at the automotive technology group of IHS Markit. His latest research was focused on autonomous vehicles and mobility-as-a-service. He was co-founder of Telematics Research Group, which was acquired by iSuppli (IHS acquired iSuppli in 2010); before that he co-founded Future Computing and Computer Industry Almanac. Previously, Dr. Juliussen was with Texas Instruments where he was a strategic and product planner for microprocessors and PCs. He is the author of over 700 papers, reports and conference presentations. He received B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Purdue University, and is a member of SAE and IEEE.

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