This week, Baidu unveiled its autonomous driving computing unit, or ACU, announcing Flex as its manufacturing partner with Xilinx and Infineon as its chip suppliers. Notably, Nvidia was absent, a departure from the autonomous driving partnership that Baidu announced in 2016.
Has Bidu broken its ACU ties with Nvidia, depriving it of the largest geographic market for autonomous ride-hailing? The Chinese government has designated Baidu as its national autonomous driving platform, suggesting that foreign companies must partner with it to compete for one of the largest transportation opportunities in the world.
Nvidia’s autonomous computers have not made the cut at Tesla or Waymo either, as both companies have broken away from the traditional four- to five-year auto design cycles and created in-house solutions. Although Nvidia has partnered with many other automakers and startups, if left out of the leading autonomous driving solutions, its future could dim relative to our expectations because autonomous ride-hailing is likely to be a winner-takes-most market with natural geographic monopolies.
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Catherine Wood, ARK Invest CEO, is a shareholder of 24/7 Wall St. LLC.