For Audi's next big step in collision avoidance -- vehicles that can swerve, not just brake, to avoid an obstacle -- the company is taking a cautious approach.
Key technologies, including the processors, software and sensors, will have backups in case of failure.
Audi will adopt the approach with its zFAS central driver assistance controller, which is to enter production within two years.
The first model with the system will be the redesigned A8 sedan, said Alejandro Vukotich, Audi's chief of development for driver assistance systems.
The system's brain is a tablet-sized computer board that houses two computer chips: Mobileye's EyeQ3 mobile processor and Nvidia's Tegra K1 processor.
Mobileye's chip will analyze camera images of any obstacles ahead of the vehicle, while Nvidia's processor will study the rest of the car's surroundings. When the second-generation zFAS controller debuts, Nvidia's chip also will analyze obstacles in front of the car.
"We will work with both companies because we need both to make a safe system," Vukotich said.
Likewise, Audi plans an overlapping array of sensors, including radar, cameras, lidar and ultrasound, to ensure fail-safe surveillance of the road even if one set of sensors fails.
Robert Bosch, Continental and Valeo will supply the sensors, and Delphi Automotive will integrate the package. "We are bringing together the best players in the market for this system," Vukotich said.
Like other luxury brands, Audi has introduced vehicles that can automatically steer to remain inside their highway lane. To do so, automakers typically use radar and cameras with one central processor.
With the added complexity of emergency lane changes to avoid a collision, backup sensors and processors make sense. That's why the next-generation A8 will be the first Audi equipped with lidar, Vukotich said. Lidar uses pulsed laser to measure the distance to an obstacle.
While fully autonomous vehicles are still a decade away, Vukotich says Audi's zFAS technology gives it a road map to reach that goal. "In your career, there are some special moments," he said. "This is a real big step for us. It's a revolution."