After Fatal Uber Incident, Nvidia Defers Autonomous Car Testing On Public Roads

Pauline Obrien
March 28, 2018

At the chipmaker's annual developer conference here Tuesday, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said the company has developed a virtual simulation platform for manufacturers to test self-driving technology.

Nvidia announced in January that Uber had selected Nvidia technology to power its self-driving auto AI, though Nvidia computing tech was already present in Uber's first fleet of Volvo XC90 SUVs.

The second contains an NVIDIA DRIVE Pegasus Al auto computer that runs the complete autonomous vehicle software stack and processes the simulated data as if it were coming from the sensors of a auto driving on the road.

Besides the benefit of safety, virtualizing the road test makes it possible to train the algorithm much faster, the company said.

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Constellation relies on two different types of server, one running Drive Sim software to simulate photorealistic data from self-driving vehicles' sensors, such as lidar and cameras.

The second server houses the Nvidia DRIVE Pegasus AI, which will process the gathered data as if it's coming from sensors in a self-driving auto on the road.

The Constellation simulator will help Nvidia reach its goal, as million, or billions of miles can be "driven" in simulation, rather than trying out deep-learning algorithms alongside other drivers in the real world. This data is processed just like it is actually coming from the sensors of a vehicle on the road-at speeds of 30 times per second.

In the same time, the software was put through 2.7 billion miles of testing in a virtual world, allowing algorithms to be quickly refined and tested against numerous variations of certain tricky real-world or hypothetical scenarios.

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Driving commands from DRIVE Pegasus are fed back to the simulator, completing the digital feedback loop.

The simulation server is powered by NVIDIA GPUs, each one generating a stream of simulated sensor data, which then feeds into the DRIVE Pegasus for processing.

Following the incident, Uber suspended its self-driving testing program in all cities, and earlier today the Governor of Arizona suspended Uber's right to test automated vehicles in the state pending the NTSB and NHTSA's investigations.

Huang said DRIVE Constellation with be available in the third quarter of this year.

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