The artificial intelligence revolution has begun, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang says, and it will change the car – as well as countless other things – in ways we can’t imagine.
Why? Because software can now write software and soon machines will build machines, Huang told the GPU Technology Conference in Amsterdam during his keynote speech on Wednesday.
Nvidia, which hosted the event, will be a key player in the revolution. “We have become the AI computing company,” Huang said.
The U.S. chipmaker plans to use this position to help cars drive themselves, which Huang admits is an “extraordinary technical challenge,” but one well worth overcoming because of huge potential benefits such as slashing the number of accidents and providing personal mobility to those who have lost it -- or have never had it.
He said that creating self-driving cars goes way beyond adding smart sensors to today's models.
“It is an AI computing problem” that the company’s “deep learning” automotive device can help solve, he said. “It is the reason Nvidia has jumped in with both feet with a scalable architecture for autonomous cars.”
The device Huang is referring to is the Drive PX 2 supercomputer, which he said is being used by 70 to 80 partners ranging from Volvo as part of its DriveMe autonomous vehicle test in Sweden to startups to taxi and trucking companies.
Drive PX 2, however, it about to get upstaged by an even more powerful supercomputer for autonomous vehicles called Xavier, a so-called "system on chip" (SoC) with 7 billion transistors that is capable of 20 trillion operations per second.
“We need a precise black box in the car,” Huang said.
That amount of computing power will definitely increase precision, and it is not even the top end for Nvidia, the company’s director of automotive, Danny Shapiro, told me.
“We’re not stopping with Xavier, we’re going to keep making things faster, smaller and more capable,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of the event. “These cars will be safer than a human driver.”
They will also be a lot smarter than anything on the road today.