More and more tech companies are jumping on to the self-driving bandwagon, with Nvidia being the latest entrant to give the likes of Intel, Google, Uber and others company. The company known for its graphics cards for computers got the approval to test autonomous vehicles from the state of California on Thursday, and its Nvidia BB8 was out on public roads Friday.
The idea for a Nvidia self-driving car was floated in 2015 when co-founder and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang sat down with Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, for an interview.
“What NVIDIA is doing with Tegra is really interesting and really important for self-driving in the future,” Musk said at the time. Tegra is a mobile processor brand from Nvidia.
In 2015, Nvidia introduced chipsets specially developed to support artificial intelligence (AI). GPUs (graphic processing units) are an important part of self-driving tech, and Nvidia spent around $2 billion to develop the P100 chipset for Tesla. In September, the company announced it would partner with Chinese company Baidu to work on self-driving AI. The company also built test cars and was training them in parking lots and on the roads of New Jersey.
The company unveiled the Nvidia Drive PX2 AI-based car computing open platform at CES 2016. It runs on a single processor and supports AutoCruise functions — highway automated driving and high-definition on just 10 watts of power. To enable fully autonomous driving, multiple PX2 platforms can be used in parallel.
Nvidia also competed in Roborace, the world’s first self-driving championship held in April 2016.
An unidentified car make with Nvidia markings was spotted zooming around in the Bay Area, California on Friday, according to the Verge.