NVIDIA, best known as the graphics chips maker for computers, is turning a new leaf. With its eyes set on powering autonomous vehicles, NVIDIA has registered blistering growth in the past few years. Automakers are lapping up its technology to design cars of the future. And NVIDIA Drive PX Pegasus is the company’s latest offering to woo automakers.
Driverless cars need to make plenty of calculations and decisions. When to make a turn, press the gas pedal, apply the brakes, turn on indicator lights or headlights, blow a horn, and so on—all this sounds ridiculously simple for a human driver. However, behind the scenes, the human brain performs millions of calculations to perform those simple functions. Now imagine a computer needing to make all those calculations in an autonomous car. Dozens of sensors, cameras, radars, and different individual units feed a staggering amount of data every second to the car. The blitzkrieg of data being thrown at it can make the best computers onboard the car feel overwhelmed. The computing demands of an autonomous car can easily be 100 times more than today’s most advanced cars.
While the central computer can still crunch all the data in real time, it sucks plenty of power. And if there is one thing that comes at a premium in autonomous cars, it’s power. With most of the future cars going the electric way, power is precious.
Why is NVIDIA AI Computer a Big Deal?
That’s where NVIDIA Drive PX Pegasus comes in and gives automakers the reason for a wide grin. Drive PX Pegasus is a level 5 autonomy AI computer for driverless cars and extends the current version, Drive PX. Capable of performing a mindboggling 320 trillion operations per second, it is surprisingly small—the size of a license plate. Plus, to make the deal sweeter, it’s not a power guzzler. Level 5 autonomy for cars means onboard computer having complete control with zero reliance on any human effort for driving.
Robotaxis are the Way Ahead
NVIDIA envisions the future of autonomous cars in the form of robotaxis instead of personal cars. While millions of people around the globe are ferried across in robotaxis, roads will become less congested, safer, and less polluted. With level 5 autonomy, the passengers need not bother with driving; they simply punch in the destination and can do anything they want while commuting.
And it’s not just about ferrying people around; autonomous vehicles could find a number of other uses. One such use is post delivery, and Deutsche Post DHL is ready for a pilot fleet with the current version of the AI computer, Drive PX.
More than 225 partners are using NVIDIA DRIVE PX platform. Of these, more than 25 automakers are developing fully autonomous robotaxis.
Automotive partners of NVIDIA will have access to NVIDIA Drive PX Pegasus only in latter part of 2018.