Auto supplier Continental and chip supplier NVIDIA announced Feb. 5 a partnership to create Artificial Intelligence self-driving vehicle systems based on NVIDIA’s computing platform, with a planned market introduction in 2021 for Level 3 autonomous features.

The partnership enables the development of AI computer systems scaling up from modest Level 2 features to full Level 5 self-driving capabilities, where the vehicle has no steering wheel or pedals.

Dedicated engineering teams from each company will work together to develop self-driving solutions based on the NVIDIA DRIVE platform, which includes the company’s new Xavier chip, claimed to be  the world’s highest performance system-on-a-chip, as well as NVIDIA’s operating system and autonomous vehicle software stacks.

The system will use Continental’s experience in system and software engineering for ASIL D-rated safety – the highest rating level – and integrate a range of Continental sensor technologies including radar, camera and high-resolution 3D LiDAR.

Continental boasts expertise in advanced driver assistance systems that integrate multifunction cameras, fish-eye cameras with surround view, as well as short- and long-range radar sensors, high-resolution 3D LiDAR technologies, as well as central control units for assisted and automated driving. In 2016, Continental’s sales of advanced driver assistance systems exceeded €1.2 billion ($1.5 billion). The company expects ADAS sales to grow to €2.5 billion ($3.0 billion) by 2020.

“The vehicle of the future will be a sensing, planning and acting computer on wheels. The complexity of autonomous driving requires nothing less than the full computational horsepower of an AI supercomputer,” says Continental CEO Elmar Degenhart.

“We now have all the key elements in place to take AI self-driving cars from development to mass production,” says Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA. “Our newly arrived DRIVE Xavier processor, extensive NVIDIA DRIVE software and cloud-to-car approach for testing, validation and functional safety. Combined with Continental’s expertise and global reach, we will bring autonomous cars to the world.”

As the brain of the Continental system, Xavier can deliver 30 TOPS (trillion operations per second) for deep learning while consuming only 30 watts of energy, NVIDIA says.

The two companies say they initially will develop highly automated driving features, including 360-degree perception and automatic lane changing on highways, plus the ability to merge in traffic. In addition, the system will integrate high-definition maps and provide mapping updates.