Uber and Volkswagen team up with artificial intelligence firm in race to develop self-driving cars

Uber tested its first fleet of self driving cars in 2016 REUTERS

Uber tested its first fleet of self driving cars in 2016 REUTERS

Nvidia will partner with Uber and Volkswagen as the graphics chipmaker’s artificial intelligence platforms make further gains in the autonomous vehicle industry.

The company, which already has partnerships in the industry with companies such as carmaker Tesla and China’s Baidu, makes computer graphics chips and has also been expanding into technology for self-driving cars.

CEO Jensen Huang told an audience at the CES technology conference in Las Vegas that Uber’s self-driving car fleet was using Nvidia technology to help its autonomous cars perceive the world and make split-second decisions.

Uber has been using Nvidia’s GPU computing technology since its first test fleet of Volvo SC90 SUVS were deployed in 2016 in Pittsburgh and Phoenix.

Uber’s autonomous driving programme has been shaken this year by a lawsuit filed in San Francisco by rival Waymo alleging trade secret theft.

Nevertheless, Nvidia said development of the Uber self-driving programme had gained steam, with one million autonomous miles being driven in just the past 100 days.

With Volkswagen, Nvidia said it was infusing its artificial intelligence technology into the German carmakers’ future lineup, using Nvidia’s new Drive IX platform. The technology will enable so-called “intelligent co-pilot” capabilities based on processing sensor data inside and outside the car.

So far, 320 companies involved in self-driving cars - whether software developers, carmakers and their suppliers, sensor and mapping companies - are using Nvidia Drive, formerly branded as the Drive PX2, the company said.

Nvidia also said its first Xavier processors would be delivered to customers this quarter. The system on a chip delivers 30 trillion operations per second using 30 watts of power.

Bets that Nvidia will become a leader in chips for driverless cars, data centres and artificial intelligence have more than doubled its stock price in the past 12 months, making the Silicon Valley company the third-strongest performer in the S&P 500 during that time.