NVIDIA CEO Reveals DRIVE SIM Constellation Autonomous Driving Simulator at GTC 2018

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Nvidia suggested that the accident was a reminder of the challenges facing the development of self-driving technology, and has reaffirmed the company's approach of "extreme caution" and "the best safety technologies".

The chipmaker, which has provided technology to Uber's self-driving cars, is testing self-driving technology globally including in New Jersey, Santa Clara, Japan and Germany.

But following a fatal accident last week in which an Uber self-driving auto struck and killed a pedestrian while in autonomous driving mode, Nvidia is suspending its testing.

Nvidia announced it was working on the technology at last year's summit.

During this morning's opening keynote to a packed audience of developers, journalists and other industry professionals, Huang announced The new NVIDIA DRIVE Constellation, a cloud-based system simulator for autonomous driving using photorealistic simulation. The promise is to move self-driving auto testing off the public roads and into data centers before the technology is proven out.

The goal, they say, is to create a safer and more scalable method for bringing self-driving cars to the roads - welcome news for many considering the recent pedestrian death that shut down Uber's operation.

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The system runs on two servers.

Uber isn't the only company affected by this incident; the fatality puts heavy scrutiny on other autonomous vehicle initiatives.

Driving commands from DRIVE Pegasus are fed back to the simulator, completing the digital feedback loop. "With virtual simulation, we can increase the robustness of our algorithms by testing on billions of miles of custom scenarios and rare corner cases, all in a fraction of the time and cost it would take to do so on physical roads". The second server contains the NVIDIA DRIVE Pegasus AI auto computer that runs the entire software stack in an autonomous driving vehicle. Currently, over 370 partner companies and about 200 startups are using various versions of NVIDIA's DRIVE platform to develop their self-driving technology.

The idea of self-driving cars is gaining a lot of traction these days, but the incident in Arizona may put the idea of autonomous cars on hold for a while. Earlier today, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey suspended Uber's ability to test and operate self-driving cars on public roads in the state.

Testing may not involve putting self-driving cars on public streets, with all the safety issues that entails, but virtual environments aren't real ones, no matter how authentic the simulations seem.