Nvidia Halts Self Driving Car Tests After Uber Mishap

Nvidia looks to the AI future

Nvidia Corp unveiled on Tuesday a simulator that leverages cloud computing power to test autonomous vehicles, the latest move involving driverless cars that has helped more than double the chipmaker's stock in the past 12 months.

Nvidia suggested that the accident was a reminder of the challenges facing the development of self-driving technology, and has reaffirmed the company's approach of "extreme caution" and "the best safety technologies".

Ultimately, autonomous vehicles "will be far safer than human drivers, so this important work needs to continue", the Santa Clara, California-based company said in an email. "DRIVE Constellation for virtually testing and validating will bring us a step closer to the production of self-driving cars". "Our global fleet of manually driven data collection vehicles continue to operate".

The simulation server is powered by NVIDIA GPUs, each generating a stream of simulated sensor data, which feed into the DRIVE Pegasus for processing.

Constellation relies on two different types of server, one running Drive Sim software to simulate photorealistic data from self-driving vehicles' sensors, such as lidar and cameras. More recently, GPU deep learning ignited modern AI - the next era of computing - with the GPU acting as the brain of computers, robots and self-driving cars that can perceive and understand the world.

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The technology is created to allow automakers and others to validate their technology on billions of driving miles and increase the strength of their algorithms by repeatedly testing hard scenarios, which would be impractical in the real world.

Nvidia announced it was working on the technology at last year's summit. The vehicle was in autonomous mode when it struck the victim, and it is the first known pedestrian death involving a self-driving auto.

Alphabet's self-driving auto unit Waymo announced last month that its test vehicles had achieved 5 million self-driven miles since 2009, when the company started the tests.

It remains to be seen how effective Nvidia DRIVE Constellation is at putting self-driving cars through the paces and how that testing translates into the real world. Waymo uses simulation in addition to physical testing.

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