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article imageNVIDIA launches license plate-sized chip for self-driving cars

By James Walker     Oct 10, 2017 in Technology
NVIDIA has announced a new AI chip designed to enable fully autonomous vehicles. The company said it's already working to develop "robotaxis" that could ferry you around without requiring any manual intervention. The company's value jumped on the news.
Level 5 automation
NVIDIA's share price is up by 2.75% today after CEO Jensen Huang unveiled a new set of autonomous car products during an event in Munich. The headline announcement is NVIDIA's Drive PX Pegasus chip, built to enable "level 5" automation. This is defined as the point where a vehicle could function entirely independently of a human driver.
Pegasus places the computing power needed for full automation inside a package little bigger than a license plate. The chip can run over 320 trillion operations each second, roughly comparable to the AI performance of a 100-server data centre. According to NVIDIA, the tech could replace an "entire trunk" of current-gen autonomous driving tech.
From concept to reality
The development brings the era of self-driving cars a step closer to reality. True automation is still elusive, in part due to the complex performance requirements of sophisticated AI. The demands of processing contiguous data streams from cameras, lidar arrays and onboard sensors necessitate a computing solution "50 to 100 times" more powerful than the tech in current-gen cars. Pegasus offers automakers a much denser AI package that can be used to create prototypes with designs closer to real-world vehicles.
NVIDIA s Pegasus chip
NVIDIA's Pegasus chip
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"Creating a fully self-driving car is one of society's most important endeavors – and one of the most challenging to deliver," said Jensen Huang, NVIDIA founder and CEO. "The breakthrough AI computing performance and efficiency of Pegasus is crucial for the industry to realize this vision."
NVIDIA said over 25 companies are already developing fully autonomous "robotaxis" using the company's technology. They can now replace their racks of in-car server-grade equipment with the Pegasus module, creating more practical testing environments that better reflect production vehicles.
"Dramatic change" in logistics
NVIDIA's DRIVE PX technology also has commercial applications. Today, the company said Deutsche Post DHL Group has decided to start a trial of autonomous delivery trucks in 2018. The logistics firm will equip a fleet of electric light trucks with autonomous driving tech supplied by driveline provider ZF.
Deutsche Post said the test will let it "responsibly support" the "dramatic change" in the logistics industry expected to be facilitated by automation. The prototype truck uses six cameras, one radar array and two lidar systems, creating a constant stream of data about the environment that's processed by NVIDIA's AI.
More about Nvidia, nvidia pegasus, Automation, autonomous vehicles, robotaxis
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