Hyundai Embraces Nvidia for Future Fleet AI, IVI Services

Article By : Junko Yoshida

Hyundai Motor Group will use Nvidia’s DRIVE platform for every Hyundai, Kia and Genesis model’s in-vehicle infotainment systems...

Hyundai Motor Group announced Monday that the Korean automotive giant will use Nvidia’s DRIVE platform for every Hyundai, Kia and Genesis model’s in-vehicle infotainment systems.

Since a Hyundai-Nvidia collaboration started developing in-vehicle infotainment systems in 2015, the latest announcement is hardly a big surprise to the automotive industry. Nonetheless, veteran automotive industry analyst Egil Juliussen called the deal significant  because it puts Nvidia at the heart of “domain ECU” in infotainment systems for models across Hyundai’s whole product line.

The reason having a standard software platform based on a single domain ECU is a big deal is because it substantially cuts the cost and time for Hyundai to develop infotainment software, Juliessen explained. Since much of the same software will be deployed into multiple models, it can give Hyundai a chance to keep debugging it. Juliussen noted, “Potentially, there will be fewer bugs in software, too.”

Alternatively, Hyundai would have had to juggle a number of different ECUs and develop separate software for each, which would all go inside the in-vehicle infotainment system. Standardizing on the single platform is “a pretty shrewd strategy,” said Juliussen.

What AI applications?
Both companies’ press releases said Nvidia is offering an “AI Platform” for infotainment systems in all future Hyundai, Kia and Genesis models. Curiously, neither company was forthright about specifics on the AI infotainment applications they plan to provide. Nvidia’s spokesperson told EE Times that “Hyundai Motor Group will announce more specific details of individual capabilities and features in line with future vehicle announcements.”

Could this be about AI-driven driver monitoring systems (DMS)? Perhaps. But neither company explicitly mentioned it in their press releases.

Juliussen speculated that such AI-driven features might range from handwriting recognition (for driver input) and eye-tracking for driver monitoring systems to gesture, speech recognition and virtual personal assistants.

In contrast, Colin Barnden, lead analyst at Semicast Research, was skeptical. He cautioned: “I think what Nvidia and Hyundai are saying is that the [Nvidia’s] Drive platform can be updated with new features by OTA updates over time and that some of those new features might be driver monitoring systems (DMS) or occupant monitoring systems (OMS).”

Barden said, “If Hyundai had added DMS as standard across their entire worldwide production, it would be absolutely huge news.” However, “That DMS is buried in Nvidia’s senior director of automotive Danny Shapiro’s blog, and is not mentioned in the release almost certainly suggests that isn’t so,” he added.

Full circle
Design wins in the in-vehicle infotainment systems are what got Nvidia’s foot in the door in the automotive market.

After years of promising to save people’s lives in autonomous vehicles enabled by Nvidia’s platform, it is almost ironic to see Nvidia come back full circle to in-vehicle infotainment.

Barnden said, “I take this announcement as further evidence of the end of the autonomous driving dream in privately-owned passenger vehicles — at least for now.”

In his opinion, driver monitoring must precede autonomous driving. But if so, he asked “Precisely what is Nvidia’s DMS strategy?”

Hyundai’s OS?
Hyundai claimed in its press release that “partnership with Nvidia enables Hyundai to roll out the company’s new ccOS.” Hyundai said ccOS stands for “connected car operating system,” and claimed it was developed in-house.

It’s unclear, however, what Hyundai means by “operating system.”

Juliussen was also puzzled by Hyundai’s “OS” assertion. At a time when there are real-time operating systems, such as QNX, “which do this full time,” and they are already tried, tested and implemented in the automotive field, he asked, “Why would any automaker want to build its own, proprietary OS?” Just dealing with OS updates would be a nightmare for any single car OEM, he noted.

Presumably, Hyundai might be adding human-machine interface (HMI) middleware around an existing off-the-shelf OS, and the company might be calling it its own, Juliussen speculated.

But again, Hyundai has yet to explain its unique definition of OS.

Instead, the company explained that its ccOS “will use Nvidia’s software frameworks to implement four core functions. They include: “high-performance computing” to process large amounts of data inside and outside the vehicle, “seamless computing” to provide “uninterrupted service, “Intelligent computing” capable of identifying the driver’s intentions and condition, and “secure computing” protecting the system by isolating data associated with vehicle safety.

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