Nvidia took the wraps off a new artificial intelligence (AI)-powered computer which will help make possible “a new class of vehicle that can operate without a driver”.
In a statement, the company said the new system, codenamed Pegasus, is the third generation of its Nvidia Drive PX AI computing platform, and possesses data-centre class processing power.
To put the development into context, Nvidia said the AI computer will be capable of powering Level 5 autonomous vehicles (automakers are currently developing Level 2 and Level 3 vehicles, which feature some self-driving capabilities, but still require human control).
Nvidia explained Level 5 vehicles will be fully autonomous and so won’t have steering wheels, pedals or mirrors. Such vehicles will have “interiors that feel like a living room or office”.
The new computing system is capable of handling more than 320 trillion operations per second, and offers more than ten-times the performance of its predecessor, the Nvidia Drive PX 2.
In terms of design, the computer is the size of a licence plate, which “drastically reduces energy consumption and cost”.
Jensen Huang, CEO and founder of the company, said creating a fully self driving car is “one of society’s most important endeavours and one of the most challenging to deliver”.
“The breakthrough AI computing performance and efficiency of Pegasus is crucial for the industry to realise this vision,” he said.
Pegasus will be available to Nvidia automotive partners in the second half of 2018.
The company added “virtually all carmakers, transportation as a service companies as well as start-ups are using Nvida AI in the development of Level 5 vehicles”.
Luca de Ambroggi, senior principal automotive analyst at IHS Markit, added: “dozens of companies are racing to develop robotaxis, but they are still gated by the massive computation needs of a truly driverless car”.