Nvidia Unveils Drive PX Pegasus, Claims It Will Enable Level 5 Autonomous Driving: Here’s What That Means

Nvidia has a bold vision for autonomous vehicles.

It makes sense: Nvidia is one of the most crucial companies at the center of autonomous driving development. It's mostly known for its cutting-edge video cards, sure, but that doesn't mean that it can't venture out toward other areas. A chipmaker, after all, only wants technology in general to be faster, smarter, more efficient, and less power consumptive. What other developing industry needs those things more than autonomous cars?

Nvidia Is The Future Of Autonomous Cars

So comes the Drive PX Pegasus, a new artificial intelligence-powered computer that delivers more than 320 trillion operations per second, 10 times more than its predecessor, the Drive PX 2. Driverless cars, as they are today, already seem very impressive — the problem is, they're mostly at level 2 or level 3 in terms of autonomy. Drive PX Pegasus can make level 5 cars, claims Nvidia. This is the highest level an automaker can ever hope to achieve. But what does that even mean?

Well, as Engadget puts it, level 5 autonomous cars require no pedal, no steering wheel, and no form of control at all. SAE International, a global association of experts in fields like aerospace, automotive and commercial vehicles, describes level 5 autonomy this way:

"Full Automation: The full-time performance by an Automated Driving System of all aspects of the dynamic driving task under all roadway and environmental conditions that can be managed by a human driver."

Level 5 Autonomous Car

To put it in simple words, if an autonomous car is rated at level 5, it can navigate any sort of terrain a regular human driver can, and it is able to perform whatever a human driver is able to. Basically, level 5 automation is just like regular driving — minus the human. It should be able to pay attention to stoplights, detect if there are road obstructions, and follow traffic rules, among other things.

Right now, one can say that current autonomous driving technology has two sides: the promise and the proof-of-concept. The proof-of-concept is the type of driverless technology demonstrable now, like Tesla's Autopilot feature. They're useful. They're innovative. They're even shocking. But they're, well, lacking. This is where the promise comes in, or more specifically, the promise of a true autonomous car that doesn't require human intervention at all. This type is the one that's appealing to most futurists and driverless car fanatics.

Nvidia Drive PX Pegasus Deployment

How far are we from that? Well, Nvidia said the Drive PX Pegasus will be marketed to hundreds of automakers involved in autonomous car development by mid-2018, but companies can start sooner if they'd like, as TechCrunch reports.

The Drive PX Pegasus making all these happen is built on Nvidia's CUDA GPUs, and according to reports, vehicles with this chip onboard will most likely be deployed in a ride-hailing capacity in limited settings. Later on when they're more ready for prime time, the cars will be rolled out in public roads.

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