"Nvidia didn't think we could make it by March 2022, they said it would be six months later than that," Nio Chief Engineer Danilo Teobaldi said. "So, we worked with them to get it ready faster than they expected."
The end result was that Nio was the first automaker to use Drive Orin. It packed four of systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) into its Adam supercomputer in the ET7 sedan.
The quad configuration delivers 1,016 TOPS (trillion operations per second) of performance to enable advanced driver-assistance systems and a point-to-point autonomous driving
Teobaldi, who very early on joined the EV startup that was founded in 2014 and delivered its first car in 2018, said Nio has often had to take such actions to reach its goals.
When it went searching for a lidar supplier for its first deployment of the technology, also on the ET7, it decided to both partner with and invest in Silicon Valley-headquartered company Innovusion.
"They also didn't think we would make it (meet Nio's tight timeline to debut its first lidar) and we did," Teobaldi said, adding that the goal was achieved at least six months faster than Innovusion predicted.
Nio's investment arm, Nio Capital, was a lead investor in the lidar maker, taking part in a funding round in 2018, two years after Innovusion was founded.
Teobaldi said Nio has often had to make bold moves to get the technology it needs because suppliers either needed too much time to get the products ready or doing so was too expensive.
"Therefore, we decided to do our strategic stuff in-house," he said during a roundtable discussion with journalists last week in Shanghai.
That stuff included its battery packs, electric motors and digital cockpits -- including its popular driver assistance, Nomi, which currently engages in more than 580,000 conversations a day in Chinese, English, German and Norwegian.
Mark Zhou, the executive vice president of Nio's product committee, said the automaker writes 75 percent of its own software in-house.
"Why? Because we are investing in our future," he said during a separate roundtable discussion in Shanghai. "We want to manage the iteration improvements."