AI computing platform targets level 5 autonomy

October 11, 2017 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
At its GPU Technology Conference (GTC) developer meeting, Nvidia highlighted its strong involvement into the development of self-driving cars and innovative traffic models. The company presented an AI computer designed as a control platform for robot taxis. Another new feature is the Holodeck VR platform, which is primarily aimed at use in vehicle development.

The Drive PX Pegasus computer platform is designed to control automobiles that run completely automatically - i. e. cars that do not have a steering wheel, accelerator or brake pedals. For this type of application, the platform must not only have sufficient computing power to process the data of an entire armada of sensors in real time and derive driving decisions from it, but also meet the highest requirements for functional safety (ASIL D according to ISO 26262): The computer is designed to be resilient and fail-safe. It is equipped with multiple different processors that serve as a back-up for each other, explained Dany Shapiro, Senior Director Automotive for Nvidia at the event.


Computig power for robot taxis: Nvidia's Drive PX Pegasus 

The high demands on reliability and redundancy mean that these computers require very high computing power. Compared to autonomous vehicles at level 4 (autonomous driving, but drivers must be able to intervene in an emergency), level 5 vehicles require overlapping surveillance with up to 16 high-resolution cameras, lidar and radar sensors. The vehicle itself must constantly know its position to the centimeter and immediately recognize other vehicles and people in the vicinity. Because of these requirements, fully autonomous cars require 50 to 100 times more computing power than today's vehicles, even if they are equipped with advanced driver assistance systems and master the level 3 of the autonomy scale, said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang in his keynote speech.