We kind of always knew this day was coming, but today, shit got a little more real for Uber drivers. NVIDIA and Uber announced at CES that the ridesharing company has selected NVIDIA technology for the AI computing system in its fleet of self-driving vehicles. It may not happen tomorrow, but the trajectory to a post-driver world is happening a lot faster than many thought.
During the opening press conference of CES 2018, NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang said that the collaboration utilizes 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. While tech darling Tesla gets a lot of attention for its self-driving efforts, it seems Nvidia is going to be serious competition, to the point where its basically a 2-horse race at this point.
“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,”
“Autonomous vehicles are the critical technology to making mobility services pervasive. We’re thrilled to be working with Uber to realize 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’s use of NVIDIA’s technology reflects the reality that the computational requirements of self-driving vehicles are enormous. Self-driving cars and trucks must perceive the world through high-resolution, 360-degree surround cameras and lidars, localize the vehicle within centimeter 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 100x more intensive than the most advanced cars today.
Head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, Eric Meyhofer said,
“Developing safe, reliable autonomous vehicles requires sophisticated AI software and a high-performance GPU computing engine in the vehicle,”
“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.