TECH

NVIDIA Unveils Supercomputer That Could Power First Cars Without Human Controls

Would you get in a car without a steering wheel?

11/10/2017 15:45 BST | Updated 11/10/2017 15:45 BST

Computing company NVIDIA has unveiled a brand-new supercomputer that it claims will give self-driving cars the ability to run without any human controls needed.

That means cars being built without a steering wheel, pedals or any other human controls.

NVIDIA

It’s called the DRIVE PX Pegasus and it’s NVIDIA’s most-powerful AI computer ever designed for a car.

The company claims that it’s so powerful in fact that it could enable ‘Level 5’ autonomy which is the highest level achievable and would allow cars to be built without conventional human controls.

According to NVIDIA, this new type of fully autonomous car will “arrive on demand to safely whisk passengers to their destinations, bringing mobility to everyone, including the elderly and disabled.”

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In order to achieve this level of autonomy, NVIDIA has had to significantly increase the computing power available to the car.

The Pegasus certainly does this in spades. It can perform over 320 trillion operations per second making it more than 10x more powerful than NVIDIA’s previous self-driving computer the PX2.

It’s hardly surprising when you consider what NVIDIA is proposing. A car that is able to see everywhere at once, making split-second decisions and identify humans, cars, objects and animals all within milliseconds and then make potentially life-saving decisions.

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For NVIDIA the first step in this journey won’t be putting the technology in everyday cars, but rather the taxi and ride-hailing industry.

“Driverless cars will enable new ride- and car-sharing services. New types of cars will be invented, resembling offices, living rooms or hotel rooms on wheels. Travelers will simply order up the type of vehicle they want based on their destination and activities planned along the way. The future of society will be reshaped,” said Jensen Huang, NVIDIA founder and CEO.

This is one of NVIDIA’s key goals, to revolutionise how we get from A to B. At present self-driving cars are capable of Level 2 or 3 autonomy.

Many of the barriers that prevent manufacturers from allowing these cars to do more are regulatory. Put simply, governments haven’t put in the laws or infrastructure yet to make them safe and reliable.

Despite the hurdles, NVseIDIA’s founder believes that achieving full autonomy is absolutely vital.

“Creating a fully self-driving car is one of society’s most important endeavours ― and one of the most challenging to deliver,” said Huang. “The breakthrough AI computing performance and efficiency of Pegasus is crucial for the industry to realise this vision.