Here's what the brain in Audi's self-driving vehicle will look like

Audi AG is developing a device the size of an iPad that will pack all the computing power needed for a car to drive itself along streets and highways without crashing.

Audi is working with Mobileye, Nvidia and Delphi to develop the various hardware and software components of an autonomous vehicle controller that will be about the size of an iPad.

The driver assistance controller (zFAS) board will act as the central interface for all piloted driving functions. It is expected to go into mass production in about two years and will "work its way into the model range step by step in the foreseeable future," Audi said.

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What the zFAS mother board will look liked installed in a vehicle.

"It is a key milestone on the road to new, automated driving functions and a demonstration of the pioneering role that Audi is assuming in the field of piloted driving," Audi said.

Today, most driver assistance computer systems are a conglomeration of spatially separated controllers. Audi claims its zFAS will be the first board to control autonomous functions in a central domain architecture.

The computing power of the zFAS corresponds to the complete electronics architecture of a well-equipped mid-size car, Audi said.

"Thanks to the high degree of integration, the new board is barely the size of a tablet PC. Its modular concept makes the zFAS flexible scalable and thus future-proof in every respect," Audi stated.

The zFAS will process a wide range of sensor and imagery information to quickly compute a complete model of a vehicle's surroundings and make the information available to the various assistance systems.

The zFAS board will be equipped with both the EyeQ3 mobile processor from Mobileye and Nvidia's new Tegra K1 mobile processor. Delphi will manufacture the zFAS board.

Audi plans to pilot the new controller in the near future  and will have self-driving vehicles transmit data back to the company via Audi's onboard telematics system, Audi connect.

The data computed by the zFAS board will be transferred via the cellular phone network — via LTE, where available — to an IT backend in the cloud, the company said.

"This will process these data using algorithms for machine learning and artificial intelligence before sending the data back to the car. The zFAS board will in this way continuously extend its capabilities to master even complex situations increasingly better," Audi stated. "The piloted cars from Audi thus learn more every day and with each new situation they experience."

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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