Nvidia unveils computer to drive 'fully autonomous robotaxis'

Key Points
  • A new Nvidia computer system will help cars achieve full autonomy.
  • Nvidia will help design autonomous trucks for DHL.
  • The company is also allowing some to access a virtual reality design platform
Nvidia unveils computer to drive 'fully autonomous robotaxis'

Nvidia on Tuesday unveiled what it says is the world's first artificial intelligence computer system designed to drive fully autonomous robotaxis, and said it plans to make a fleet of autonomous trucks.

The company claims the new system, code named Pegasus, will handle Level 5 driverless vehicles — vehicles that can be operated entirely by sensors and computers, with no human interaction.

Nvidia shares jumped more than 3 percent on the news after the market opened Tuesday.

The system will include several chips, including Nvidia's next-generation GPU, which is due out next year, plus artificial intelligence software, in a package that the company boasts is the "size of a license plate" — a huge reduction from the massive racks of computers required today. The system's capabilities represent more than a tenfold increase over the current system, Nvidia said in a news release.

"It is designed for truly level 5 driving," meaning no steering wheel, no gas or brake pedal, Nvidia automotive senior director said Danny Shapiro on a call with reporters on Monday. Nvidia said it is working with several companies on developing robotaxis, but Shapiro declined to name them.

Pegasus will be available to Nvidia automotive partners in the second half of 2018. Pricing was not disclosed.

The company also announced it will partner with automotive supplier ZF to make a test fleet of autonomous delivery trucks for Deutsche Post DHL Group by 2018. DPDHL is the world's largest mail and package delivery service, Shapiro said.

The fleet will combine sensors, cameras, radar and lidar, and the ZF ProAI self-driving system, which is based on Drive PX.

The technology is expected to improve DPDHL's efficiency considerably by enabling 24/7 hour package delivery.

The company is also allowing some designers and developers access to its Holodeck virtual reality development platform, which lets designers test ideas in a realistic 3-D world.

A rendering of NVIDIA’s “Holodeck” virtual reality design studio.
Source: Nvidia