Nvidia Puts the Focus on Self-Driving Cars at GTC
Included in DriveWorks will be a deep neural network that will aid in training autonomous cars in learning how to drive. Huang during his keynote showed how quickly—after 3,000 miles of driving supervised by a human—a car using Nvidia's DaveNet network could drive on everything from highways to local roads, and over dirt roads and in the rain. Huang also said that Nvidia's technology will be at the center of the new "Roborace" series featuring driverless autonomous cars. Each of the 10 teams will have two identical cars, with the teams differentiating on the software that runs the cars. The race series will begin later this year. As company officials outlined the Drive PX 2 and other offerings, others were talking about what the move to driverless cars will mean for the auto industry. According to Nvidia's Shapiro, it could change what cars are made of. If there are fewer accidents on the roads, then cars may be able to be made from lighter materials, without the need for steel-reinforced frames or airbags. Without people driving, the inside of the car may feature swivel chairs so passengers can face each other, he said during a question-and-answer session after Huang's keynote. Shapiro also noted that these connected cars will be programmable through software, which means they can be updated throughout the life of the vehicle. Cars that initially may not have some features available on day one will be able to get those features later through updates."It's time for upgradable cars," he said. "It will give people the sense of increasing value in their cars." Also at GTC, Toyota's Pratt talked about the automaker's simulation work around autonomous vehicle technologies that is powered by Nvidia's GPUs.
Such capabilities will be important for the car industry and its customers, according to Bob O'Donnell, principal analyst with TECHnalysis Research. Upgradable cars could boost revenues in the industry because consumers will be willing to pay more for cars that can be updated via software and the cloud, O'Donnell told eWEEK. Rather than having a vehicle that automatically depreciates, drivers will have cars that will offer new features throughout the lifecycle.