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Transportation Technology

Nvidia Introduces a Computer For Level 5 Autonomous Cars (engadget.com) 175

From a report: At the center of many of the semi-autonomous cars currently on the road is NVIDIA hardware. Once automakers realized that GPUs could power their latest features, the chipmaker, best known for the graphics cards that make your games look outstanding, became the darling of the car world. But while automakers are still dropping level 2 and sometimes level 3 vehicles into the market, NVIDIA's first AI computer, the NVIDIA Drive PX Pegasus, is apparently capable of level 5 autonomy. That means no pedals, no steering wheel, no need for anyone to ever take control. The new computer delivers 320 trillion operations per second, 10 times more than its predecessor. Before you start squirreling away cash for your own self-driving car, though, NVIDIA's senior director of automotive, Danny Shapiro, notes that it's likely going to be robotaxis that drive us around. In fact, the company said that over 25 of its partners are already working on fully autonomous taxis. The goal with this smaller, more powerful computer is to remove the huge computer arrays that sit in the prototype vehicles of OEMs, startups and any other company that's trying to crack the autonomous car nut.
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Nvidia Introduces a Computer For Level 5 Autonomous Cars

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  • ...no need for anyone to ever take control.

    Excellent idea; time to think about eventually shorting NVDA??

  • I would use GeForce Experience but the damn thing is flakier than a teenager with a bad case of dandruff. Previous versions would occasionally crash but the current GE is unusable.

  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @12:04PM (#55343853) Homepage Journal

    Why own a thing, when you can pay someone else an exorbitant fee to use theirs temporarily?

    This will work out brilliantly for the 0.004% who currently own 80% of the wealth.

    • Autonomous cars on a course to put taxi's and real drivers out of business, then charge everyone taxi prices to go anywhere. Maybe more, depending whether you are going to an affluent area. The future seems to suck.
      • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

        Autonomous cars on a course to put taxi's and real drivers out of business, then charge everyone taxi prices to go anywhere. Maybe more, depending whether you are going to an affluent area. The future seems to suck.

        What's going to stop Autonomous Car Owner A from charging a bit less than Autonomous Car Owner B, in order to get more customers? And what's then going to stop A from reducing his prices a bit below B again, in order to get customers back? And why won't this cycle continue until the prices paid by customers are only slightly higher than the costs incurred by the car owners?

        In other words, why do you think there will be no price-competition in The Sucky Future?

        • Marketplace collusion/monopoly, likely enforced with legislation. The same forces that prevent price-competition in today's markets.
        • Because there is no price competition currently with taxis for good reason. It keeps the number of cars on the road down, thus usage down for the sake of the other people using the roads. Such regulations will be more important with self driving services. Since the roads can only hold so many cars, there is no benefit to be gained by selling such services in bulk. Plus I'm not really sure if that kind of price competition really ever happens in a substantial way. I would once say technology was the one
          • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

            Because there is no price competition currently with taxis for good reason.

            Uber and Lyft don't count?

            • Uber and Lyft are only cheaper than taxis right now because they clearly want taxis out of business, and aren't following the same regulations that cost money. It is currently unclear whether Uber and Lyft will be able to ignore regulations permanently. I doubt it, seeing as they are already getting booted out of London for that reason. In some cities in Canada, taxi drivers are demanding that they be compensated for their investment in their taxi licenses if Uber be allowed in. And rightfully so, they
              • by Junta ( 36770 )

                Also, easier to be cheaper when you don't give a crap about actually making money:
                "The company posted a net loss of $645 million", most companies aren't darling hip tech companies that are allowed to lose $645 million a quarter and still be loved by investors.

                It remains to be seen how they will do when they run out of investor patience.

              • And, from what I have read, Uber is burning their VC rounds to subsidize the rides to the tune of about 50% of the total cost. If they are forced to charge what the ride costs, they will not be able to be as inexpensive compared to the taxi's today.
                • by Kjella ( 173770 )

                  And, from what I have read, Uber is burning their VC rounds to subsidize the rides to the tune of about 50% of the total cost. If they are forced to charge what the ride costs, they will not be able to be as inexpensive compared to the taxi's today.

                  Most likely they're hoping to do the VC dance until autonomous cars are ready since they have very "disposable" drivers and unlike taxi drivers that cost a lot of money idle it'll probably be about having the most taxis on the road for shortest waits. Here in Norway where labor is pretty damn expensive we have this roughly cost-neutral compensation per km for using your private vehicle for work and your typical taxi ride will be 7x-13x as expensive. Even with the added cost of self-driving vehicles and some

        • As someone who actually tends towards socialism in many spaces, autonomous cars taxis seem to be one of the few areas that will manifest many of the advantages of capitalism. Except it will play out slightly different. You nor I will be allowed to use our autonomous cars for taxi services, due to the EULA. We will still ,however, see a fair amount of competition between the Ubers and the Fords of the future economy.
          • by mysidia ( 191772 )

            You nor I will be allowed to use our autonomous cars for taxi services, due to the EULA.

            Sure we will be allowed to: So long as we don't Opt-Out of our vehicle manufacturer's sponsored Ride-Sharing program where the vehicle manufacturer gets to keep 98% of the profits and then reimburses the vehicle owner for the cost of electricity or fuel, plus a small token profit.

          • There is at least one company [electrek.co] working on autonomous driving who is publicly talking about your car being able to earn you money while you aren't in it.

            • O I am sure there is, however, due to the economics of scale in auto manufacturing the production will get locked into the same small cartel situation we have now, just new names and faces. Having the right to use your own car like that will quickly get EULAed out.
        • by tsqr ( 808554 )

          What's going to stop Autonomous Car Owner A from charging a bit less than Autonomous Car Owner B, in order to get more customers? And what's then going to stop A from reducing his prices a bit below B again, in order to get customers back? And why won't this cycle continue until the prices paid by customers are only slightly higher than the costs incurred by the car owners?

          In other words, why do you think there will be no price-competition in The Sucky Future?

          Factors similar to those resulting in not much price competition between cable providers in the Sucky Present. Can you cite a reason why autonomous car fleet services won't be regulated the way the cable providers are?

          • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

            Can you cite a reason why autonomous car fleet services won't be regulated the way the cable providers are?

            Assuming that self-driving cars really are safer than human drivers, I'd expect them to be regulated about as much as current non-autonomous car fleet services (e.g. Uber, Lyft, Hertz, Zipcar, etc) are, which is to say, lightly.

            If self-driving cars aren't safer than human drivers, then I'd expect them to be outlawed entirely.

          • Factors similar to those resulting in not much price competition between cable providers

            Totally dissimilar markets. Cable is infrastructure intensive, and has huge barriers to entry. Rides have near zero barriers to entry. All you need is an app. When Uber and Lyft pulled out of Austin, local companies filled the void within days.

            • You think obtaining an autonomous car fleet with a mother ship to talk to for coordination is going to have a small barrier to entry? Is there any indication that individuals will ever have access to a self driving car? Or will the technology just be hoarded by companies large enough to put it in a fleet?
              • Or will the technology just be hoarded by companies large enough to put it in a fleet?

                You mean the way individuals were unable to own cars, washing machines, clothes dryers, dishwashers, Roombas, cell phones, laptops, etc?

                Number of technologies that are available only to "the rich": 0.

                • You're making a rather large assumption that a self driving car will ever work using technology that can be easily mass produced. Since there is no sensor array that works in all weather and all situations yet, and we don't seem to have the technology available yet, you're being a bit premature in comparing it to a washing machine.
            • Factors similar to those resulting in not much price competition between cable providers

              Totally dissimilar markets. Cable is infrastructure intensive, and has huge barriers to entry. Rides have near zero barriers to entry.

              Because roads aren't infrastructure and cars are cheap!

              Seriously, I laughed my ass off when I first read your comment.

              When Uber and Lyft pulled out of Austin, local companies filled the void within days

              https://www.curbed.com/2017/6/... [curbed.com]

              • Because roads aren't infrastructure and cars are cheap!

                Uber and Lyft do not build their own roads, and do not own the cars.

                What is your point? This link confirms everything I said. Uber and Lyft left. Competition sprang up immediately (no new roads and no new cars were needed). Uber and Lyft returned (still no new roads needed).

          • by grumling ( 94709 )

            The cost of programming is the primary reason why there's little price variation in pay television.

            And who's to say that someone might not come along with a ride model that lets you ride for free but has snack machines? Or a retail store or mall offering free trips to their establishments? There's precedent for both models, and even things like the shuttles run from hotels to airports (which I suppose are considered to be included in the room price) are already well established as "free rides."

            Heck I see wh

            • some may game the free shuttle to the casino to/from the near by public transportation station to park for free.

        • by Junta ( 36770 )

          That kind of skips the whole 'own my own damn car' option, which hopefully presumably will be a viable option, and in fact a cheaper than ever option (insurance should go down, electric cars have less maintenance and fewer things to suddenly and catastrophically break).

          I think there's justified concern that the culture inundates people with 'nah, you don't want to own anything, rent everything' which creates an unfortunate relationship between those who own and those who use. It's generally an exploitative

          • That kind of skips the whole 'own my own damn car' option

            The average American household owns 1.9 cars. My family has 3 drivers and 3 cars. With on-demand SDCs, we will likely go to 2, and perhaps 1. Car ownership will not disappear, but it will decline.

            Renting an SDC should be much cheaper than owning, since most cars sit idle 95% of the time. So the cost of the car can be spread across far more people. Even if an SDC is idle 50% of the time, that is still only a tenth of the capital cost per passenger-mile.

            • But who are you renting from? It has to be from someone with the capability and capacity to have a car ready just when you need it; even at peak times. It has to be someone who can afford to license autonomous driving for commercial use. So out of the few companies you will be able to rent from, why would they not charge as much as they can for the service unless they have some deficiency that makes their product worth less than the other companies doing it?

              Also, when you consider the number of cars ne
              • But who are you renting from?

                Uber, Lyft, Waymo, etc.

                It has to be from someone with the capability and capacity to have a car ready just when you need it; even at peak times.

                Uber and Lyft already have this working pretty well. Once drivers are out of the loop, it should get even better.

                • Right but still no indication that Uber and Lyft will be any cheaper than a taxi once that point is reached. Right now they don't have to invest in a vehicle at all, so the peak times problem works out for them. All they have to do is offer people more money to drive during peak times and they are willing to volunteer their cars. In off-peak times they go back to making their own cars their own. If Uber and Lyft have a fleet of autonomous driving cars, they have the problem of supplying enough cars to s
            • This is what I would do and we would probably instead prefer to own a partial interest in 5 to 10 cars, one of them a pickup for the odd times we need one of those. I'd want to share ownership with people who use the cars at night, or during the workday, the times when I have no need of them.

        • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

          Because there isn't now?

          Price competition is the big offer of capitalism to the working man. Except it comes with quite a few caveats and assumptions. It turns out it doesn't work so well in many markets, transportation being one of the big ones.

        • In other words, why do you think there will be no price-competition in The Sucky Future?

          Because I actually pay for my own cell phone and internet services, buy my own gasoline, et al.

          It's called the voice of experience.

          • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

            You think there is no price competition in gasoline? Where do you live? Gasoline retailing is one of the most price-competitive markets there is, with razor-thin margins. It is why gas stations all have mini-marts, carwashes, or something else they can actually make a profit on.

            In fact, this intense price pressure is exactly why gas prices tend to rise an fall in sync.

            • You think there is no price competition in gasoline?

              I think the cause is far less important than the end result; to that end, you seem to agree with me:

              In fact, this intense price pressure is exactly why gas prices tend to rise an fall in sync.

              Ours is not to question why, ours is but to do and die... and pay standardized retail markup.

        • by mysidia ( 191772 )

          What's going to stop Autonomous Car Owner A from charging a bit less than Autonomous Car Owner B, in order to get more customers?

          The "no commercial use" in individual auto insurance policies (that costs extra), AND
          the EULA Clause in the autonomous vehicle makers' click-through agreement that says No commercial Resale or Ride-sharing of the autonomous vehicle's driving service.

    • Maybe you live in a city and don't need to drive most of the time, but have an occasional need. Maybe you share a car with your spouse and that works fine most of the time, but occasionally you need a second car...Uber isn't expensive and owning a car isn't cheap.

      • I never said it wouldn't work - I merely pointed out who will ultimately profit in a rental-based economy.

    • Why own a depreciating asset that requires constant fuel, maintenance and taxes? Especially when a round trip Uber ride costs less then parking downtown.
      • by Junta ( 36770 )

        I don't have the parking costs in my context, but all those other costs you mention, you are paying for them whether it is your car or a rental. Additionally you are paying for more expenses that you wouldn't incur (it uses fuel to move between fares and associated wear and tear and probably taxes not levied on a privately owned vehicle) and likely some sort of parking fee if it is ever at rest, as well as a profit margin to make it worthwhile for the owner of the item above and beyond expenses.

        Rental mak

        • by b0bby ( 201198 )

          I don't have the parking costs in my context, but all those other costs you mention, you are paying for them whether it is your car or a rental.

          I guess it boils down to, are the marginal fuel & maintenance costs of the rental greater than your average fixed costs, like taxes, interest payments and insurance (and variable costs you'd eliminate, like parking, plus the value of any time you'd spend dealing with oil changes, filling up with fuel, etc)? For a well -used taxi, those fixed costs would be a tiny percent of my fare, but if I own a car I'm on the hook for all of them regardless of whether I use it or not. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot

          • by Junta ( 36770 )

            This is the whole part of the 'if you use it all the time'. If you use it all the time, you are going to be shouldering most if not all of the burden of the fixed costs of that thing you are renting in addition to the owners margin.

            If you have a daily commute that resembles 90+% of the local population, renting a car is not going to be a winner because the peak load is going to bear the burden of pretty much all the costs. Mass transit can get some economies of scale to actually reduce cost (buses, trains

      • Why own a depreciating asset that requires constant fuel, maintenance and taxes? Especially when a round trip Uber ride costs less then parking downtown.

        I don't know about Uber, but where I live it costs $20 one way to take a taxi to work, so $40/day round trip.

        $40 x 5 = $200/wk

        That's $800/mo., not including any weekend or after-work driving.

        I currently pay about $80/mo for fuel (big-ass V8 pickup), another $85/mo for insurance, and we'll say another $80 in maintenance (spread out over the year). Truck's paid off, but before my payment was about $220/mo.

        So, $800/mo to ride everywhere in someone else's car, or $465/mo MAX to drive my own vehicle befiore payi

    • by mark-t ( 151149 )
      You exaggerate. The even richest 1% only control about 35% of the total wealth.
    • My prediction: self-driving cars may be too expensive for most individuals, at first. If that's the case, we'll see them in taxis first. But I expect the price to come down fast to affordable levels. Will more people rent cars? Undoubtedly. But there are a lot of advantages to actually owning one:
      - Guaranteed availability
      - Cost (if you use it a lot, owning might be cheaper than renting)
      - The ability to leave all your crap in the car while not having to deal with other people's mess
      - Status, or bein
  • by CHK6 ( 583097 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @12:14PM (#55343927)
    I am all for technological progress. But if we start making lower education jobs inaccessible to those who do not have the talent, means, or desire for higher educational jobs, then we are consciously creating trickle up poverty. Wouldn't it be a far wiser investment in creating fully autonomous CEOs? There are far fewer CEOs than workers. The ROI is far more lucrative. The cost of ownership is a fraction of the cost to retain a CEO.

    As ludicrous as that sounds, why would one position be subject to replacement through autonomous automation and another would not? I think it's within the realm one could argue an autonomous level 5 CEO would have done a better job than the counter part.
    • by darkain ( 749283 )

      This actually is in active development. There is research and development going into writing AI software for business decision making. It just isn't called "CEO Automation", but that is essentially what their function will be. Things like HR and lawyers are being automated now too.

    • The answer is, it is harder. Some day. We are just not there yet. It is just easier to automate most low talent/education jobs.
    • Huh? Average workers still draw a lot more salary than CEO, so replacing the workers make more sense. Lower-end jobs like driving a taxi or a truck are also much easier to automate than a CEO.

      Realistically, if technology could effectively replace a CEO it would already happen.

    • CEO-bot 9000 says you're fired. Have fun driving for Uber.

      Seriously, though, you're not the first to suggest that CEO positions are ripe for automation [inc.com].

    • I have a prototype running on Arduino...It can can flip power point slides very well.

    • This is what technology has been doing for centuries - automating away the low-level positions. We could bring that back I suppose. Would you like to restore the wonderful jobs of cotton picking and wheat thrashing? Or maybe we should go back to horse-drawn plows so that plowing a field involves enough people to slowly plow one furrow at a time and as a bonus you can clean stalls? Perhaps we should regulate bakeries and require the dough for every loaf of bread to be kneaded by hand? It would certainly requ

  • Unlike a GPU where a memory error or an ALU or register bit flip might result in a 1 frame glitch, or at worst a frozen GPU, requiring a reboot, failures in this hardware will kill people.

    I hope they have ECC on everything, and redundancy everywhere -- possibly a space-shuttle like voting system where multiple computers are fed the same input, and if they don't produce the same output, a majority wins approach is taken.

    It should also have very detailed logging -- so every decision taken can be traced, so when there is an accident, a proper root cause analysis can be performed, and corrective measures instituted.

    NVidia as a company has a great track record for being on the cutting edge of technology -- but no track record at all for making safety critical systems. That cutting edge will cause people to bleed if they don't get this right.

    • by darkain ( 749283 )

      What you've described is essentially nVidia's Quadro line, vs their normal retail/gamer lines: http://www.nvidia.com/object/q... [nvidia.com]

      • by ameline ( 771895 )

        I still wouldn't trust my life to a Quadro -- are all the caches and registers ECC protected? Are all the internal data paths fault tolerant? What happens to performance when an error is detected/corrected?
        What happens when an uncorrectable error is encountered? If there is a failure, can you determine its cause?

        These are things to be concerned about in a hard real-time system like controlling a few tons of steel moving along with significant kinetic energy containing and nearby squishy, fragile meat bags w

        • by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @01:29PM (#55344437)

          Yet you trust you life to hundreds of random human strangers in the traffic you navigate nearly every day, many of whom are distracted, buzzed, senile or just plain idiots.

          At any rate, the bulk of the hardware doesn't need to totally failsafe as long as there are effective backup measures in place such as collision avoidance systems (which generally don't require anywhere near as much compute power). We already have such things in many of today's cars to help with the highly unreliable controllers mentioned in the first paragraph.

          • The human brain, for all it's distraction, drugs, senility and idiocy, is a fairly remarkable error-handling device. It is capable of multiple layers of self-correction and self-audit. Even the basic act of bipedal locomotion requires an extraordinary depth, let alone doing so basically without conscious effort.

    • by ameline ( 771895 )

      Apparently it is targeting ASIL-D

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      So they are at least not unaware of the safety implications. Still would be a shame for a stray cosmic ray to kill someone...

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      That approach will never work. Even if you could guarantee every computation was correct, you can't guarantee every input is bit correct.

      The only way is making the algorithms resistant to noise. Which modern ones are.

    • ASIL-D. ISO 26262. IEC 61508.

      If you live in the automotive space you're used to all of this by now. If this is what Nvidia is targeting then Nvidia has taken that into account.

      Every ASIL-D chip I'm aware of does exactly what you think it should. End to end ECC and lock step cores.

    • And human drivers have these things? Frankly, I am sure as an engineer that redundancy or at the least safe fallbacks are part of the design. I've never worked a critical system where that wasn't the case. But, the argument is flawed.

      Nobody has ever crashed a vehicle when they had a heart attack or stroke? There has always been a redundant designated driver when the main one was inebriated? Always a redundant check on the decisions of everyone whose abilities have declined? Everyone who has ever run out of

    • That cutting edge will cause people to bleed if they don't get this right.

      Currently around 3500 people die in auto accidents every month, and another 380k get injured badly enough to go to a hospital (citation below). What we have today is far from perfect and if they can improve on what we currently have, despite not being perfect, it's progress and a good thing. The early data is that it helps reduce deaths by ~20% and injuries by ~40%. That's quite an improvement and I'm certain that it will get even better over time.

      Citation:

      http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/... [rightdiagnosis.com]

      https://ww [bloomberg.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I currently pay $250/month for a car payment, $160/month for insurance, and probably $120/month for gas. ($530)

    I'll assume I need 3 trips per day (commute plus errand/grocery); for 1 month, that's 90 trips.

    Simple math says if the robotaxi charges less than (530 / 90) = $5.89 per trip, then I should ditch my personal vehicle.

    Let's see how hungry these transportation as a service companies are.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @12:21PM (#55343983) Journal

    If you have a level 5 autonomous car, I suggest waiting before you download the latest drivers.

  • A chip capable of self-driving a car but yet not powerful enough to mine a single block of Bitcoins on its own.

    • by Pascoea ( 968200 )
      It's almost as if those are two different tasks, that require two different sets of specialized hardware. But I hear you, I too get frustrated while trying to eat soup with a fork.
      • I too get frustrated while trying to eat soup with a fork.

        That's nothing. Ever tried eating a sandwich through a straw?

  • Compared to an autonomous motorcycle https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
  • 320 Tflops! I'm going to buy myself one of these cars and then simply rent its CPU out when it's sitting in the driveway!

    Imagine thousands of super computing taxis that as soon as they go and sit idle hook back up to the grid and keep computing!
  • better to not own it till the laws / liability issues have worked though the courts

  • I understand that AI can be really smart, that sensors are really good at seeing objects, predicting collisions, reading road signs, that sort of thing, and they have the distinct advantage that they're always on, always looking in every direction, and don't get distracted. However, the one thing I cannot fathom being possible in a car at this level of autonomy is being able to handle a cop in an intersection directing traffic. I'm a human (at least according to CAPTCHAs), and humans are notorious for the

    • "Law enforcement officer detected. Additional driver feedback required. Please selected an option from the drop down menu"
      • Probably the officer can tell the car himself what to do.
        And when he gets annoyed about needing to tell so man cars what to do, he finally follows the "normal" traffic organizing protocol again.

        I'm also often quite amused what kind of show traffic regulators are giving ... once I saw one dancing (a fat male).

  • by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @04:58PM (#55345713) Journal

    The self driving cars/autonomous cars/driver assistance systems, I was involved with, run on 4 - 6 ARM Cortex, 160MHz and are mostly idle all the time.

    You don't need such absurd computing power for a self driving car.

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