Huawei and Audi partner on 'intelligent self-driving'

Huawei has kitted out an Audi Q7 with its Mobile Data Center to showcase intelligent self-driving capabilities.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Huawei and Audi have announced that they will partner on intelligent connected vehicles, with the networking giant's Mobile Data Center (MDC) being integrated into the Audi Q7 as a showcase prototype.

The MDC would be used in "urban automatic driving environments", Huawei said.

"We evaluate a joint development of highly automated driving functions and future oriented vehicle-to-infrastructure communications," EVP of Audi China R&D Saad Metz said at Huawei Connect 2018 in Shanghai on Thursday.

"Audi proved in many events over the world to be one of the technology leaders in the area of highly automated [driving]. We are looking forward to intensify the partnership with Huawei in the future, because we are convinced that a closer cooperation between our two companies will bring substantial benefits for both sides."

According to Huawei chief strategy marketing officer William Xu, intelligent self-driving services will be coming "very soon".

The announcement followed Huawei and Audi signing a memorandum of understanding for developing intelligent connected vehicles together back in July, with the German car manufacturing company also working with Ericsson on the use of 5G technologies during automotive production and smart factories.

Ericsson and Audi will use the latter company's production lab in Gaimersheim, Germany, with simulated processes mirroring those used in its headquarters in Ingolstadt to run field trials such as wirelessly connected production robots working on car body construction.

The lab will be kitted out with Ericsson's proof-of-concept 5G network, with the companies also looking into the use of such technology across other Audi Group factories.

Read also: Volvo goes with Nvidia Xavier for assisted driving

Huawei's work across driverless vehicles saw the Chinese networking giant in February use its artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to drive a car.

Under its RoadReader project, Huawei said it has used its Mate 10 Pro device to conduct intelligent object recognition to distinguish between thousands of different objects including dogs, cats, balls, and bicycles and "learn to take the most appropriate course of action".

"Unlike other driverless cars, which simply detect obstacles, Huawei has transformed a Porsche Panamera into a driverless vehicle that doesn't just see, but crucially understands its surroundings," the Chinese tech giant said.

Automatic object-recognition AI capabilities were originally included in the Mate 10 Pro in order to improve photography, with Huawei saying this technology can be reused instead of relying on a third-party purpose-built chip.

Huawei has this week also unveiled its AI strategy and full-stack portfolio, including a series of chips, cloud services, and products during Huawei Connect 2018.

Huawei's Ascend AI chip series includes the Ascend 910 and Ascend 310, with the company also unveiling the Compute Architecture for Neural Networks (CANN), a chip operators library and automated operators development toolkit, and MindSpore, a device, edge, and cloud training and inference framework.

The latter includes "full-pipeline services (ModelArts), hierarchical APIs, and pre-integrated solutions", Huawei said, with the Chinese networking giant to later expand its AI stack to include an AI acceleration card, AI server, AI appliance, and other AI products.

"Huawei's AI strategy is to invest in basic research and talent development, build a full-stack, all-scenario AI portfolio, and foster an open global ecosystem," Huawei rotating chair Eric Xu announced in Shanghai.

"In the telecom sector, we will adopt SoftCom AI to make network O&M more efficient. In the consumer market, HiAI will bring true intelligence to our consumer devices.

"Our Huawei EI public cloud services and FusionMind private cloud solutions will provide abundant and affordable computing power for all organisations -- especially businesses and governments -- and help them use AI."

Huawei also announced a smart cities AI partnership with Tianjin Binhai New Area, as well as a smart campus solution and joint innovation laboratories alongside Chinese real estate developer Vanke.

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