ZF demos automotive supercomputer, autonomous minibus

January 08, 2019 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
At CES in Las Vegas, automotive supplier ZF Friedrichshafen shows how networked and autonomous driving could become reality. A powerful AI computer for autonomous vehicles takes center stage. In addition, there is a fully autonomous vehicle - a "people mover", which will soon go into series production.

ZF Friedrichshafen is focusing on its computer platform ZF ProAI RoboThink. The company is not averse to superlatives when it comes to describing this platform: It is said to be the most powerful AI-capable supercomputer currently available, and it should meet all requirements for automotive use.

The platform is not completely new - at last year's CES, ZF presented a computer of this name for the same purpose. The company provided only a few details about the inner workings of this computer. In any case, it is already the 3rd generation; presumably the current issue contains the latest versions of the silicon chips on board. In any case, the device shown is a near-series version.

The ProAI draws its computing power from a combination of several processors, including Nvidia's Xavier and Xilinx's Zynq UltraScale+, a component that combines several heterogeneous processor cores on one chip and is optimized to deal with AI algorithms. In the platform context, the task of the Ultrascale+ is the real-time aggregation, pre-processing and distribution of the data ("Sensor Data Fusion") within the system. In addition to this sensor data fusion, the entire computer is also responsible for processing data from the cloud and from car-to-x communication. The latter is treated as a sensor within the ProAI data architecture. In interaction, the processors collected on the platform achieve a computing power of 600 tera-ops, ZF says.

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