Nvidia’s focus at their CES 2016 press conference last night, presented by CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, wasn’t on its legendary video cards made for gamers; instead, they unveiled their new deep-learning computer, the Drive PX 2. This processor possesses the power to run an artificial intelligence framework, called the DriveNet, within self-driving cars, all part of an ecosystem called DriveWorks that Nvidia has been developing over the last few years. They unveiled their plan as a vision for what self-driving cars can and should be, and it was positively fascinating. Nvidia’s goal is a driver-free car, one where the car is truly our vehicle and not a tool we have to control.
Nvidia’s vision for self-driving vehicles starts with a three-point wish: safer driving, new mobility services and urban redesign. They detailed how today’s artificial intelligences are better at perceiving images than humans can, and they react faster to information via their super-computing processor design for the Drive PX 2. The Drive PX 2 is the size of a lunchbox, an extreme downsize from the Google automated driving computers that take up the entire trunk. It runs on 12 CPU cores, 4 Pascal GPUs, processes at the speed of 8 teraflops and learns on the job (similar to Tesla’s Model S Autopilot), uploading new situations and its solutions to the DriveWorks cloud so the rest of the network can download its knowledge, kind of like a self-driving car hivemind. To put its power in perspective, the Drive PX 2 is equivalent to 150 Macbook Pros running simultaneously.
The press conference gave us a preview of the self-driving UI with a giant version of an updated dashboard, showing a digital version of the car being driven with its perceived environment loading in around it and its speed, with another screen showing the GPS map of the car’s route. They showed us how the car perceives its environment with 360-degree cameras, how it corrects GPS errors in real time and how it categorizes the objects it perceives into classes, like cars, people and other stationary objects.
The biggest announcement of the press conference was Nvidia’s partnership with Volvo, which will be the first company to use the Drive PX 2 in testing and design. After the conference, Nvidia released a more detailed statement regarding their relationship with Volvo and a timeline for production. Volvo plans to release 100 Volvo XC90 SUVs, road-ready, next year as part of their Drive Me autonomous car pilot program (and let’s hope they include that Netflix dashboard in their design).
In other exciting car news, Faraday Future unveiled their FFZero1 concept vehicle design last night, and while they didn’t say it outright, we can only assume their future consumer designs will include some kind of automated driving software.
Are you a fan of Nvidia graphics cards and processors? Are you excited for self-driving cars? Let us know in the comments!