MUNICH: NVIDIA HAS SHOWN OFF the 'world's first' AI computer designed to power fully-autonomous 'robotaxis'.
The new system, codenamed Pegasus, marks the first time that Nvidia's Drive PX platform has been capable of driving Level 5 driverless cars, which refers to vehicles that require no human control. Rather, Level 5 vehicles have full automation and don't require pedals, steering wheels, or controls for a human to take charge.
Nvidia is aiming the system at the ever-growing ride-haling economy and hopes that Pegasus will help to create a new class of robot taxis, or robotaxis, that are capable of safely transporting passengers to their destination.
The firm claims that not only will this make journeys safer due to the fact that, unlike us crappy humans, self-driving vehicles are "never fatigued, impaired of distracted", but also says that it will also help to reduce congestion and free up valuable land currently used for car parks.
Naturally, fully-autonomous vehicles require heap loads of computational power, and Nvidia thinks its Pegasus is up to the challenge. It delivers over 320 trillion operations per second - more than 10 times that of the Nvidia Drive PX 2, and the same level of power generated from 400 CPUs.
The Pegasus comprises of four AI processor, including two of Nvidia's latest generation Xavier models with embedded Nvidia Volta GPUs, with two next-generation discrete GPUs designed specifically to accelerate deep learning and computer vision.
The overall size of the system is roughly that of a license plate, according to Nvidia.
"Creating a fully self-driving car is one of society's most important endeavours - and one of the most challenging to deliver," said Jensen Huang, Nvidia CEO.
"The breakthrough AI computing performance and efficiency of Pegasus is crucial for the industry to realize this vision. Driverless cars will enable new ride- and car-sharing services."
Things then, er, started to get weird.
"New types of cars will be invented, resembling offices, living rooms or hotel rooms on wheels, Huang added. 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," he said.
In the near term, Nvidia expects Pegasus to show up in shuttle vehicles in airports and on campuses, before arriving on public roads in the future. The platform will be available to early access partners in late-Q1 2018, and the firm claims it already has 25 companies signed up to develop fully self-driving taxis.
To complement its Pegasus Drive PX platform, Nvidia on Tuesday also showed off its Drive IX SDK, which sees "inside and outside" of vehicles in order to allow developers to create futuristic features for self-driving cars.
Huang said: "Basic neural networks that we've already trained, combined with the perception of what the car sees is going to allow our customers to write applications that are magic.
"For example, you'll walk up to the car and it'll know who you are and adjust the seats, or if you walk to the trunk with a load of bags it'll know to automatically open the trunk up."
"As a result, your car becomes an AI, and your car AI will look after you."
Nvidia's Drive IX SDK, which runs on the firm's Drive platform, naturally, will be available in early access from Q4 2017.
Nvidia also announced on Tuesday that it has teamed up with Deutsche Post DHL Group (DPDHL) to deploy a fleet of autonomous delivery vehicles. DPDHL will equip its electric light trucks with the ZF ProAI self-driving system in a move that Nvidia claims could pave the way for 24/7 automated deliveries. µ
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