NVIDIA unveils AI computer for fully autonomous ‘robotaxis’


Visual computing company NVIDIA this week unveiled what it says is the first artificial intelligence computer designed to drive fully autonomous ‘robotaxis’.

The new computer system, Pegasus, extends NVIDIA’s existing DRIVE PX AI computing platform to handle Level 5 driverless vehicles, delivering more than 320 trillion operations per second.

“Creating a fully self-driving car is one of society’s most important endeavors -- and one of the most challenging to deliver,” said NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang.

“The breakthrough AI computing performance and efficiency of Pegasus is crucial for the industry to realize this vision.”

More than 25 of the developer partners on NVIDIA’s DRIVE PX platform are developing fully autonomous ‘robotaxis’ using NVIDIA GPUs.

However, the size, power demands and cost of the racks of computers needed to run deep learning, computer vision and parallel computing algorithms make these impractical for production vehicles.

In contrast, said NVIDIA, Pegasus will provide the computational capability required for fully autonomous vehicles “in a computer the size of a license plate”, reducing energy consumption and cost.

Luca De Ambroggi, senior principal automotive analyst at IHS Markit, said: “Today dozens of companies are racing to develop robotaxis, but they are still gated by the massive computation needs of a truly driverless car.”

“The new NVIDIA DRIVE PX Pegasus shows the path to production for the automakers, startups and automotive ecosystem working to deliver this amazing vision.”

Creating a fully self-driving car is one of society’s most important endeavors — and one of the most challenging to deliver.
— NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang

NVIDIA said that virtually all carmakers, transportation as a service companies and startups developing Level 5 autonomous vehicles are using its artificial intelligence.

“NVIDIA gets it. And their DRIVE PX Pegasus will get us to Level 5,” said Zoox CEO and co-founder Tim Kentley-Klay.

“Driverless cars will enable new ride- and car-sharing services,” said Huang. “New types of cars will be invented, resembling offices, living rooms or hotel rooms on wheels. 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.”