Nvidia has revealed a new computing platform which it says is being used by more than 25 companies to develop “fully autonomous robotaxis”.
The new Nvidia Drive PX Pegasus is said to be the world’s first artificial intelligence computer designed to drive fully autonomous robotic taxis.
Experts say autonomous robotic taxis are the next step for globally popular ride-sharing apps such as Uber and many others.
Nvidia says Pegasus extends the Nvidia Drive PX AI computing platform to deal with Level 5 driverless vehicles, which is the highest level of autonomy according to engineering association SAE’s guidelines.
Nvidia says Pegasus is capable of more than 320 trillion operations per second — more than 10 times the performance of its predecessor, Nvidia Drive PX 2.
This will help make possible a new class of vehicles that can operate without a driver – fully autonomous vehicles without steering wheels, pedals or mirrors, and interiors that feel like a living room or office, says Nvidia.
Some 225 companies are partnering with Nvidia to develop on the Drive PX platform, and more than 25 of those are developing fully autonomous robotaxis using Nvidia Cuda graphics processing units.
Today, their trunks resemble small data centers, loaded with racks of computers with server-class Nvidia GPUs running deep learning, computer vision and parallel computing algorithms.
Their size, power demands and cost make them impractical for production vehicles.
The computational requirements of robotaxis are enormous – perceiving the world through high-resolution, 360-degree surround cameras and lidars, localizing the vehicle within centimeter accuracy, tracking vehicles and people around the car, and planning a safe and comfortable path to the destination.
All this processing must be done with multiple levels of redundancy to ensure the highest level of safety.
The computing demands of driverless vehicles are easily 50 to 100 times more intensive than the most advanced cars today.
Jensen Huang, Nvidia founder and CEO, says: “Creating a fully self-driving car is one of society’s most important endeavors – and one of the most challenging to deliver.
“The breakthrough AI computing performance and efficiency of Pegasus is crucial for the industry to realize this vision.
“Driverless cars will enable new ride- and car-sharing services. 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.”
Nvidia’s PX driving platform has received broad industry support in recent years, and could be said to be the leading platform for autonomous vehicle development.
Virtually all carmakers, transportation as a service companies, as well as startups are using Nvidia AI in the development of Level 5 vehicles.
“Nvidia gets it,” says Tim Kentley-Klay, CEO and co-founder, Zoox. “Their Drive PX Pegasus will get us to Level 5.”
Sertac Karaman, president and co-founder, Optimus Ride, says: “We plan to put Nvidia Drive PX Pegasus into production in our autonomous vehicles.”
Xiaodi Hou, CTO, TuSimple, says: “The breakthrough AI performance and capabilities of the Nvidia Drive PX Pegasus platform will ensure the reliability and safety of our autonomous trucking fleet.”
Dmitry Polischuk, head of self-driving, Yandex.Taxi, says: “Nvidia Drive PX 2 is the brain of our self-driving prototypes, and we can’t wait to get our hands on NVIDIA DRIVE PX Pegasus.”
Karl Iagnemma, CEO and co-founder, NuTonomy, says: “NuTonomy is building for Level 5 and Pegasus is the kind of platform that will be required to support these types of systems.”
Luca De Ambroggi, senior principal automotive analyst at IHS Markit, says: “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.”
Nvidia Drive PX Pegasus is powered by four high-performance AI processors.
It couples two of Nvidia’s newest Xavier system-on-a-chip processors – featuring an embedded GPU based on the Nvidia Volta architecture – with two next-generation discrete GPUs with hardware created for accelerating deep learning and computer vision algorithms.
Nvidia says the system will provide the “enormous computational capability” for fully autonomous vehicles in a computer the size of a license plate, drastically reducing energy consumption and cost.
Pegasus is designed for ASIL D certification – the industry’s highest safety level – with automotive inputs / outputs, including CAN (controller area network), Flexray, 16 dedicated high-speed sensor inputs for camera, radar, lidar and ultrasonics, plus multiple 10Gbit Ethernet connectors.
Its combined memory bandwidth exceeds 1 terabyte per second, claims Nvidia.