Self-Driving Cars

Mercedes-Benz, NVIDIA join forces to create computer-focused automated driving solutions

Mercedes-Benz is planning for an automated driving future.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

There's a lot that goes into self-driving vehicles. It's not just cameras and radar. There's a bevy of technology that goes into solving the "how" question as well as attempt to automate how to react to other drivers demonstrating their free will, safely or unsafely. Then there's the regulations and laws to consider, not to mention the wide variety of roads, differing traffic laws by jurisdiction, and the appearance (or lack thereof) of a variety of lane markings. And that's just a quick list off the top of the head.

It's no wonder that automakers are pairing up with tech companies to come up with computer solutions to automated driving. Mercedes-Benz is the latest to do so, having joined forces with NVIDIA. According to a release, the two companies are planing to work together to "develop the most sophisticated and advanced computing architecture ever deployed in an automobile."

Mercedes is set to begin rolling out vehicles with the technology in 2024.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The solution will be software based and built on the NVIDIA DRIVE platform. Mercedes-Benz is already saying that the architecture will be deployed in the company's next-generation fleet and will allow for automated driving functionalities.

What features can drivers expect? According to Mercedes, "A primary feature will be the ability to automate driving of regular routes from address to address. In addition, there will be numerous future safety and convenience applications. Customers will be able to purchase and add capabilities, software applications and subscription services through over-the-air software updates during the life of the car."

This includes developing AI and automated vehicle applications that include SAE vehicle automation Level 2 and 3 levels, as well as automated parking functions (up to Level 4).

Level 2 is considered partial automaton and is defined as requiring the vehicle to be in a specific drive mode to allow for the specific execution of one or more driver assistance systems regarding steering and acceleration/deceleration.

Level 3 is conditional automation. This level allows drivers to switch on automated functionality as part of a drive mode and for that enabled technology to perform all the aspects of dynamic driving. When the system requests, a human can intervene.

Level 4 is a highly automated version of Level 3 requiring even more sophistication. A vehicle with Level 4 technology can respond on its own if a driver does not "properly" respond to prompts from the system to take control. This technology would not be available in just one mode, bu rather in many.

The DRIVE platform includes a computer system-on-chip (SoC), called Orin, which is based on recently announced NVIDIA Ampere supercomputing architecture. It includes a full system software stack designed for automated driving AI applications.

The NVIDIA DRIVE platform includes a full system software stack designed for automated driving AI applications. NVIDIA and Mercedes-Benz will jointly develop the AI and automated vehicle applications that include SAE Level 2 and 3 levels, as well as automated parking functions (up to Level 4).

The new system's state-of-the-art capabilities will be harnessed with a total focus on safety. As the technology and regulatory framework develop, it will be possible for every car to be updated over-the-air to enable new automated driving functions. Convenience as well as other safety features will also be available.

To develop the new models, both companies will be utilizing NVIDIA DRIVE Infrastructure solutions to enable data driven development and deep neural network development to handle the requirements of the regions and operational domains where the cars will be available.

A statement from Mercedes says that the technology will begin rolling out in 2024.

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New plug-in hybrid SUV

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe starts at $59,495

The Grand Cherokee 4xe is premium, inside and out.

Jeep/Stellantis

Last year, Jeep electrified the Wrangler, its most iconic model, with an innovative plug-in hybrid powertrain (PHEV). Not long after, the brand announced a similar version of the Grand Cherokee. The upscale electrified off-roader offers plenty of standard tech and features, solid safety equipment, and 25 miles of all-electric range. Today, Jeep announced pricing for the SUV, which will start arriving in dealers this spring.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe The 4xe powertrain delivers up to 25 miles of all electric range. Jeep/Stellantis

Pricing for the 4xe lineup starts at:

  • Grand Cherokee 4xe: $59,495
  • Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe: $64,280
  • Grand Cherokee Overland 4xe: $67,555
  • Grand Cherokee Summit 4xe: $71,615
  • Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve 4xe: $76,095
The Grand Cherokee 4xe comes with a turbocharged 2.0-,item inline-four that combines with two electric motors for a total output of 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. The 4xe powertrain includes plug-in hybrid technology, which enables all-electric driving. In the Grand Cherokee, there's up to 25 miles of electric range, which could enable a completely gas-free ownership experience for people with short commutes. Once the electric range is exhausted the vehicle functions like a normal hybrid, and the batteries must be recharged to replenish range.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe The Grand Cherokee joins the Wrangler 4xe in Jeep's electrified lineup.Jeep/Stellantis

Fortunately, the 4xe's premium starting price buys a premium SUV, even at the base level. Standard features include Capri leather upholstery, a 10.1-inch touchscreen and 10.25-inch passenger display. A dual-pane panoramic moonroof and heated power seats are also standard. A full suite of advanced safety systems come standard as well. All 4xe trims come with full-speed forward collision warnings, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alerts, LED headlights, and more.

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The 2023 Sequoia is all-new and a huge improvement over its predecessor.

Toyota

The Toyota Tundra and Sequoia were two of the oldest vehicles on the market, but that's all different now. The new Tundra is already on the streets, and today Toyota released a load of specs and details on the all-new 2023 Sequoia. The full-size SUV gets a major update for the new model year with completely fresh styling, impressive new tech, and a powerful standard engine. We don't have pricing details yet, but Toyota says the 2023 Sequoia will be available starting in summer 2022.

2023 Toyota Sequoia In addition to new styling, the SUV gets a twin-turbo hybrid V6 powertrain and a load of updated tech.Toyota

Five trims of the Texas-built SUV will be offered: SR5, Limited, Platinum, TRD Pro, and Capstone. All 2023 Sequoia models get the impressive twin-turbo V6 hybrid i-Force Max engine from the all-new Tundra. It makes 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque, and sends it to the rear or all four wheels through a ten-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain delivers a max towing rating of up to 9,000 pounds, which is a solid number and a massive increase over the previous Sequoia.

Toyota offers automatic-leveling air suspension and adaptive suspension settings with modes for Comfort, Sport S+, and Custom. The Sport drive modes also improve throttle response and changes transmission shift points. The electric motor handles most propulsion duties below 18 mph, but after that the gas engine steps in. The motor is constantly involved when the truck is in Tow/Haul mode.

2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro models get under-body cladding and beefier tires.Toyota

Similar to the high-end treatment given to the Tundra, Toyota will offer a Capstone trim for the new Sequoia that brings unique upholstery and trim materials, 22-inch chrome wheels, power side steps, American Walnut inlays, and more. That said, even the standard Sequoia SR5 offers plenty of standard gear. A 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster is standard, along with heated seats and more. An available Premium Package adds an enormous 14-inch infotainment display, power third-row seats, a hands-free liftgate, and additional power outlets.

Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 will also be standard for the SUV. The system includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and daytime cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and rear seat reminders. Blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts is also standard.

2023 Toyota Sequoia The new Capstone trim is a super-plush trim with an interior rivaling those in many luxury brands.

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