Nvidia's powerful Drive PX2 makes sense of the road

IDG News Service | Jan 4, 2016

In 2015, most of the world’s major automakers either demonstrated autonomous cars or announced research into the technology. It’s coming and Nvidia wants to be the one supply the computers that run it all.

Nvidia wants this powerful computer in every car


In 2015, most of the world’s major automakers either demonstrated autonomous cars or announced research into the technology. It’s coming and Nvidia wants to be the one supply the computers that run it all.

It’s latest product is the Drive PX2, a 4-chip, 12 core processing platform to run the artificial intelligence needed for these systems.

“This is the world’s first in-car AI supercomputer.”
“The computational capability of PX2 is essentially 150 Macbook Pros.”

But why does Nvidia think we need a supercomputer in our cars? For a computer, recognizing everything that’s happening on the road is a pretty significant task. And context is also important and that’s where artificial intelligence comes in.

“Every truck is not a truck. Some trucks are ambulances and you should pull aside. All of these different scenarios, not only do you have to recognize what they are but understand the special circumstances, these are all trainable situations.”

Researchers are already putting the Drive PX2 through its paces. On this snowy road, it’s difficult to see other cars and road markings but the system, with a few cues, has been able to learn what’s what. And in this street, it can spot pedestrians, cars and other objects.

Beyond the labs, cars will need to do this in real time, processing gigabytes of realtime images from cameras and laser imaging sensors. Nvidia showed off some examples of this being done with the Drive PX2.

Here, the system is recognizing other cars and mapping the road around it.

So what’s the future? Nvidia first announced the Drive PX in early 2015 and the hardware has already gotten more powerful. So if this looks awesome now, just wait for a few years.

For Nvidia, it already has its first customer.

“I’m super proud to announce and pleased to announce that the first car company that’s going to deploy Drive PX2 is going to be a company, Volvo.
“They’re going to deploy several hundred cars with Drive PX to start developing their self driving capabilities.”

Industry watchers believe autonomous driving technology will come to cars gradually, to expect to see more powerful computers in vehicles over the next few years.
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