What's going on here?
Chipmaker Nvidia announced late on Sunday that both Uber and Volkswagen will use its cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) software to help develop self-driving cars. Just keep those taxis hacker-proof…
What does this mean?
Nvidia makes computer graphics chips (i.e. hardware) but has recently expanded into developing AI-driven software for autonomous vehicles (which does things like help self-driving cars perceive the world and make split-second decisions). In addition to the big-name partnerships, Nvidia said that 320 companies (from automakers to software companies, among others) are already using its AI platform, Nvidia Drive.
Nvidia is also about to launch its new Xavier processor chips – which it says will
open a school for mutants enable an enhanced degree of autonomous driving. The company touts the combination of its AI software and its new chips as creating a value-generating symbiotic architecture – in plain English, it’s easier to use both products together rather than one or the other, potentially boosting Nvidia’s sales and entrenching its position as a leader in the space.
Why should I care?
For markets: Nvidia could be a game changer – a fact of which investors are well aware.
Nvidia’s potential in autonomous driving has helped the company more than double its share price in the past year, making it one of the best-performing companies among major US stocks over that time period. But Nvidia isn’t alone – companies like Intel and Qualcomm both claim their respective technologies will be the key ingredient in tomorrow’s self-driving gumbo. The fight is on!
The bigger picture: Despite its legal issues, Uber’s autonomous driving program appears to be quietly accelerating.
As part of its presentation at CES Las Vegas, Nvidia said Uber’s self-driving program had completed one million miles of autonomous driving in just the past 100 days. That’s a significantly increased pace for Uber’s program, and one that’s taken place despite an ongoing lawsuit with Google-owned Waymo concerning the alleged theft of trade secrets.