Self-driving cars continue to amaze passengers as a truly transformative technology. However, in the time of COVID-19, a self-cleaning car may be even more appealing.
Robotaxi startup Voyage introduced its third-generation vehicle, the G3, this week. The autonomous vehicle, a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan retrofitted with self-driving technology, is the company’s first designed to operate without a driver and is equipped with an ambulance-grade ultraviolet light disinfectant system to keep passengers healthy.
The new vehicles use the NVIDIA DRIVE AGX Pegasus compute platform to enable the startup’s self-driving AI for robust perception and planning. The automotive-grade platform delivers safety to the core of Voyage’s autonomous fleet.
Given the enclosed space and the proximity of the driver and passengers, ride-hailing currently poses a major risk in a COVID-19 world. By implementing a disinfecting system alongside driverless technology, Voyage is ensuring self-driving cars will continue to develop as a safer, more efficient alternative to everyday mobility.
The G3 vehicle uses an ultraviolet-C system from automotive supplier GHSP to destroy pathogens in the vehicle between rides. UV-C works by inactivating a pathogen’s DNA, blocking its reproductive cycle. It’s been proven to be up to 99.9 percent effective and is commonly used to sterilize ambulances and hospital rooms.
The G3 is production-ready and currently testing on public roads in San Jose, Calif., with production vehicles planned to come out next year.
G3 Compute Horsepower Takes Off with DRIVE AGX Pegasus
Voyage has been using the NVIDIA DRIVE AGX platform in its previous-generation vehicles to power its Shield automatic emergency braking system.
With the G3, the startup is unleashing the 320 TOPS of performance from NVIDIA DRIVE AGX Pegasus to process sensor data and run diverse and redundant deep neural networks simultaneously for driverless operation. Voyage’s onboard computers are automotive grade and safety certified, built to handle the harsh vehicle environment for safe daily operation.
DRIVE AGX Pegasus is built on two NVIDIA Xavier systems-on-a-chip. Xavier is the first SoC built for autonomous machines and was recently determined by global safety agency TÜV SÜD to meet all applicable requirements of ISO 26262. This stringent assessment means it meets the strictest standard for functional safety.
Xavier’s safety architecture combined with the AI compute horsepower of the DRIVE AGX Pegasus platform delivers the robustness and performance necessary for the G3’s fully autonomous capabilities.
Moving Forward as the World Shelters in Place
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to limit the way people live and work, transportation must adapt to keep the world moving.
In addition to the UV-C lights, Voyage has also equipped the car with HEPA-certified air filters to ensure safe airflow inside the car. The startup uses its own employees to manage and operate the fleet, enacting strict contact tracing and temperature checks to help minimize virus spread.
While these measures are in place to specifically protect against the COVID-19 virus, they demonstrate the importance of an autonomous vehicle as a place where passengers can feel safe. No matter the condition of the world, autonomous transportation translates to a worry-free voyage, every time.