NVIDIA and Uber today announced that the ridesharing company has selected Nvidia technology for the AI computing system in its fleet of self-driving vehicles.

Speaking at the opening press conference of CES 2018, Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang said that the collaboration utilises Nvidia technology for Uber Advanced Technologies Group’s fleets of self-driving cars and freight trucks, running AI algorithms that enable vehicles to perceive the world, predict what will happen next and quickly choose the best course of action, even in complex environments.

“The future of transportation will be transformed by mobility services. Convenient, affordable mobility-as-a-service will reshape cities and society, and help support the billion-person increase in the world’s population over the next decade,” said Huang.

“Autonomous vehicles are the critical technology to making mobility services pervasive. We’re thrilled to be working with Uber to realise this vision.”

Uber began working on self-driving technology in early 2015, and launched the first city trials in Pittsburgh, in fall 2016, followed by a second pilot in Phoenix, starting in early 2017. Over this period, self-driving Ubers have completed more than 50,000 passenger trips and have logged over 2 million autonomous miles.

Uber will use Nvidia’s technology to drive the computational requirements of their self-driving vehicles. Self-driving cars and trucks must perceive the world through high-resolution, 360-degree surround cameras and lidars; localise the vehicle within centimetre accuracy; detect and track other vehicles and people; and plan a safe, 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, according to a Nvidia company statement.

“Developing safe, reliable autonomous vehicles requires sophisticated AI software and a high-performance GPU computing engine in the vehicle,” said Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group.

“Nvidia is a key technology provider to Uber as we bring scalable self-driving cars and trucks to market.”

Uber began using Nvidia GPU computing technology in its first test fleet of Volvo XC90 SUVs, and currently uses high-performance NVIDIA processors to run deep neural networks in both its self-driving ride-hailing cars and self-driving freight trucks. The development pace of the Uber fleet has accelerated dramatically, with the last million autonomous miles being driven in just 100 days.

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