Nvidia is best known for building chips powerful enough for 3D graphics and serious gaming, which still accounts for about half of the company's business. But one of its fastest-growing areas is powering the type of artificial intelligence needed for self-driving cars.
Kim caught up with Danny Shapiro, Nvidia's senior director of automotive, before the company talks to the Senate Commerce Committee this week about getting automated vehicles on the roads faster.
How did Nvidia shift from graphics to self-driving cars?
Graphics is a computing-intensive operation and it turns out the types of algorithms used for AI — more specifically deep learning — are very closely aligned with the types of math used for 3D graphics...We've been involved with the auto industry for two decades. First, automotive designers used our technologies to design 3D models of cars.
Over the last 10 years we've been adding our technology inside the vehicle, like the drive screens powered by mobile processors that you see in Tesla...(More recently) we've been working with automakers and suppliers and sensor systems to build the systems that replace the driver.
When will we see widespread adoption of self-driving vehicles?
We have a lot of partners talking about 2020 — with Audi for Level 4 automated driving (where no human driver is needed). We announced with Toyota (to release) within a few years.
The timeline is really a function of regulation. Right now you're allowed to have autopilot like Tesla, and Audi is rolling out Level 3 autopilot (where a safety driver is ready to intervene if necessary) this summer, but there is nowhere where it is legal to have Level 4 technology on the road...so I think we need to see new regulation.
What else should policymakers do to get AVs on the roads faster?
The obvious one is the need for unified standards across our country as opposed to 50 sets of rules. That's going to be a nightmare and make it very challenging for anyone who wants to cross state lines in an autonomous vehicle.
Find more of the interview here.