Volkswagen enlists Nvidia’s powerful Xavier chip for autonomous cars

Nvidia kicked off CES 2018 on a high note by introducing an autonomous machine processor named Xavier. Designed to help self-driving cars merge into the mainstream, Xavier is billed as the world’s most complex and advanced system on a chip (SoC).

“In the future, every car will be self-driving. There will be 100 million cars built each year, millions of robotaxies, and several hundred thousand trucks. All of it will be autonomous. On top of this, what will define the driving experience is the artificial intelligence (AI),” Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang promised during a press conference in Las Vegas.

He pointed out Xavier is, by far, the most complex project Nvidia has ever embarked on. Without getting too technical, the processor relies on nine billion transistors to monitor information sent by the numerous sensors required to make a car drive itself safely and smoothly. “It can never fail because lives are at stake. And it has to make the right decision, running software the world has never known how to write,” Huang explained.

Nvidia will place Xavier at the center of Pegasus, an AI computing platform built to power level five (fully autonomous) vehicles. It’s built on two Xavier processors and a pair of next-generation GPUs. It handles 320 trillion operations per second; in simpler terms, it delivers the performance of a trunk full of PCs in an apparatus no bigger than a license plate.

Xavier will reach the market this quarter, a little over a year after it was announced, and Nvidia has already received numerous orders. Aurora, the start-up company founded by former Google engineer Chris Urmson, will leverage Xavier’s capacities to develop the level four and five self-driving platforms it will supply to car companies. Volkswagen and Hyundai are currently working with Aurora, and we expect more companies will announce a partnership in the coming months.

“Nvidia Xavier is a key element of Aurora’s computer, delivering the performance needed to power self-driving system,” Urmson said in a statement.

Xavier will help Volkswagen bring the production version of the I.D. Buzz concept to the market. Expected to arrive in 2022, the retro-inspired electric van will offer a high level of autonomy. It’s safe to assume the technology will trickle down to other upcoming members of the German company’s lineup, including more electric cars. AI tech from Nvidia will also continue to power Uber’s ever-growing fleet of self-driving cars and trucks in the coming years.

“We’ve been integrating and running our self-driving cars and trucks on Nvidia’s GPU technology, and will explore other Nvidia platforms as they become available,” an Uber spokesperson told Digital Trends. The tech firm isn’t planning on using Xavier chips, however.

Nvidia’s venture into the automotive industry doesn’t end there. The company also announced it has teamed up with German components manufacturer ZF and Chinese tech giant Baidu to develop a mass production-ready autonomous vehicle platform specifically for the Chinese market. That involves dealing with the chaotic traffic on Chinese roads, a task that’s easier said than done. Designed for mass production, the platform uses Nvidia’s Xavier chip, ZF’s ProAI car computer, and Baidu’s Apollo Pilot.

Updated by Ronan Glon: Added Uber statement.


Nvidia’s Jetson AGX Xavier module is designed to give robots better brains

Nvidia's pricey Jetson AGX Xavier might help drive the next generation of smart robots. Nvidia hopes that developers will use its new Xavier module to power AI-driven machines like delivery drones and robots used in manufacturing.

Leak reveals that Nvidia’s RTX 2060 gaming chipsets will be headed to laptops

The latest leaks of Nvidia's upcoming RTX 2060 have given performance benchmarks and further detail about the future chipset and its capabilities, while a RTX 2060 Max-Q variant has also been discovered for thin and light gaming machines.

The Titan RTX graphics card is nearly here. Here's what you need to know

The Nvidia Titan RTX is arguably the most powerful consumer graphics card ever made, even if it's not really aimed at consumers. It bridges the 2080 Ti and RTX Quadro cards with boat loads of power.

3DMark’s Port Royal lets you benchmark ray tracing on Nvidia’s RTX cards

UL is adding another benchmarking utility to its popular 3DMark suite to help gamers measure their graphics card's ray tracing performance. You'll soon be able to measure how Nvidia's RTX 2070, 2080, and 2080 Ti stack up.

These winter-warrior cars will never leave you out in the cold

Snow can be an absolute pain if your vehicle isn't optimized to handle that sort of terrain. If brutal snowstorms are an annual part of your life, we recommend you pick up one of these winter-ready vehicles.

2020 Toyota Supra caught hiding in a trailer without a shred of camouflage

Toyota's plan to once again lure enthusiasts into showrooms involves bringing back the Supra, one of its most emblematic nameplates. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming coupe, which Toyota is developing jointly with BMW.

Driving a prototype 2020 Passat at Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground

Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground is where new cars are tested to the breaking point, including the 2020 Passat midsize sedan. Ride along as the new Passat completes testing ahead of its 2019 launch.

NYC mandates minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, other app-based rideshare drivers

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a rule that drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft must be paid at least minimum wage, even though they are independent contractors. The new pay rate includes operating costs.

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.

Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.
Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.

Hertz speeds up car rentals with biometric scan technology

Biometric security technology that uses face, fingerprint, and voice recognition is gaining traction, with Hertz emerging as the latest company to incorporate it into its daily operations.
Product Review

Inside Maserati's Levante SUV beats the heart of a Ferrari

Maserati’s luxury SUV gets a shot in the arm by way of Ferrari-derived V8 power, but is it enough to go toe-to-toe with the established players in the high performance sport-utility segment? Let’s find out.