Under the skin: this autonomous car’s “ brain ” is as fast as yours Car News

It has the uninspiring appearance of a regular computer circuit board, but this piece of electronics measuring just 24cm long, 14cm wide and 2cm high is smarter than it looks. It can perform a sextillion computational operations per second (roughly the same as the human brain) and provide intelligence for autonomous vehicles of level two to five.

ZF Friedrichshafen, the giant supplier best known for its gearboxes, unveiled the next generation of its Pro AI – which is expected to arrive in production in 2024 – at the Shanghai Motor Show last month. Considered to be the world’s most powerful automotive supercomputer, Pro AI can be used in any vehicle in a number of different roles, from advanced architectures appearing in conventional cars to providing the intelligence needed for driving. autonomous.

The increasing number of features and functions on modern cars have to be controlled, and so far this has been done through multiple Electronic Control Units (ECUs) spread around the car, the number increasing as every new feature is added. The new approach is to divide the car into domains and zones, with zones providing power and data connections to sensors and equipment, with a single connection between domain controllers and zone controllers. Supplier Aptiv, which is currently developing intelligent vehicle architectures, estimates that this will reduce the weight of wiring in cars by 20%.

The Pro AI is an example of the emerging breed of on-board supercomputers that can be used either as a domain controller or a zone controller, but also as a central controller. It is also not a closed workshop, so it can run ZF’s own software or third-party software. It can “ merge ” all the data from radar, lidar, cameras, and audio sensors to create an image of the surrounding environment, in a sense, allowing it to build a sort of situational awareness. . It is also optimized for the deep learning processes which are the building blocks of advanced safety functions and autonomous driving. For example, it can transmit sensor data to a storage system, which facilitates the training of computer artificial intelligence.

Does that make it as smart as a human brain, then? Not quite yet, perhaps. It can have a similar computational speed (although estimates of what an adult human brain can achieve are actually just estimates), but it can’t build and program itself from scratch either. The human brain can also rewire or reconfigure itself through neuroplasticity: the ability to move functions to another area if it sustains an injury.

Additionally, the human brain has the ability to physically change its structure by reconnecting neurons as a result of learning. While computer scientists, including researchers at IBM, are working hard to try to mimic what is also known as this brain plasticity in computational AI, it is not yet clear to what extent a computer will be able to adapt and reorganize in the real world without any kind of human intervention.

To drive a vehicle on public roads as efficiently and safely as a skilled human driver, a computer will need to have experience without acquiring it, which is not quite the same thing.

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This notice was published: 2021-05-23 23:01:24