Nvidia has just pitched itself as the platform for traditional carmakers to compete with Tesla, announcing a first-of-its-kind partnership with Mercedes-Benz to power the next generation of autonomous vehicles.

“This is the biggest partnership of its kind in the transportation industry,” said Jensen Huang, chief executive of the graphics chipmaker, at an event live-streamed from Stuttgart and Silicon Valley. From 2024, Mercedes will begin delivering over-the-air software updates to its entire fleet through a complete solution provided by Nvidia. Tesla already upgrades its vehicles with over-the-air updates. 

Nvidia’s Orin chips and its DRIVE software platform will enable an in-vehicle computing system and AI computing infrastructure that can power automated driving and safety features.

UBS analysts described the partnership as a groundbreaking move and an “iPhone moment” for Nvidia, given the software and services revenues it could create as the industry moves towards more of a subscription model for improving the driving experience. It has agreed a 50-50 revenue split with Mercedes on future subscription services. “Unlike other partnerships — most significantly Toyota — this deal cements its position as a platform (not just technology) supplier of both hardware + software and allows it to play in what could be a big recurring revenue stream,” they said.

Nvidia could offer the same technology to other carmakers, although analysts have warned of a move away from AI and deep learning to more rules-based software for self-driving cars,

German producers have been shifting their strategy — Mercedes’ parent Daimler abandoned a similar collaboration with BMW last week that relied on Intel technology. Also last week, Volkswagen ruled out working with big tech companies to develop software for its new vehicles. It said it would accelerate the growth of a newly established digital unit.

The Internet of (Five) Things

1. Facebook admits to trust problem
Facebook has admitted to having a “trust deficit” on a conference call with nearly 200 advertisers, according to leaked audio obtained by the FT. “There is a trust deficit. You try to make a decision and people disagree and maybe that builds that deficit even deeper,” said Neil Potts, Facebook’s head of trust and safety policy, in an apparent reference to it allowing several controversial posts from President Trump to remain on its platform. Ben & Jerry’s is the latest company to join an ad boycott of the social network.

2. The hunt for Wirecard’s COO
Philippine authorities are searching for Wirecard’s former chief operating officer Jan Marsalek, as part of a broader probe into the payments group, which is battling to survive after acknowledging €1.9bn was missing in a potential fraud. German regulators are coming under fire for failing to investigate what increasingly appears to be one of the country’s worst ever accounting scandals. 

3. Tech troubled by Trump visa move
Donald Trump’s suspension of the H-1B visa programme has provoked outrage in India’s technology industry, where workers stuck abroad because of coronavirus face being unable to return to their jobs and their families.

4. UK regulator okays Amazon’s Deliveroo stake
The UK’s competition watchdog has reversed a year-long block on Amazon investing in the UK food delivery service Deliveroo, admitting that the deal will not adversely affect consumers. The Competition and Markets Authority provisionally approved Amazon’s purchase of about 16 per cent of the food delivery company as part of a $575m funding round first announced in May last year.

5. Google may reroute HK internet link
Google is considering alternative destinations for a planned high-speed subsea internet cable after the US government warned against building the link to Hong Kong for security reasons. This week’s Tech Scroll Asia newsletter also looks at how US-China tensions have stretched into space.

Tech tools — Acer ConceptD 3 Ezel

Acer’s ConceptD 3 Ezel is a convertible notebook capable of six different modes due to its innovative hinge. Acer describes them as “stand mode for drawing content or display mode to present it. Other usage modes include an adjustable float mode, traditional laptop mode, pad mode and share mode”. There are amber-backlit keys set against a white chassis and a large glass trackpad, a choice of 14in or 15.6in touchscreen displays with an accompanying stylus, and a claimed 18 hours of battery life. With powerful Intel I5 or I7 processors, this is a premium-priced device starting at $1500. It’s part of a new line-up for “creators” unveiled by Acer on Tuesday.

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