It may be another 5 or 10 years before you can buy a self-driving car, but there are already prototypes out there to whet your appetite. And you might think that the venerable Detroit Auto Show would be the main venue for showcasing self-driving cars. Not so. Try the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. After this year’s show, Forbes published an article about The Five Most Disruptive Innovations at CES 2015. Guess what was #1?
As you can imagine, self-driving or autonomous vehicles rely heavily on electronics and computing technologies (hence their popularity at CES). A self-driving car is loaded with sensors so it can see the road and environment around it. Extremely powerful computers then process this data and use it to analyze the road and pilot the car—from navigating, steering, and acceleration, to braking and parking.
In other words, the car captures information about the real world around it, computes that data, and from the results creates the driverless transportation experience. Classic example of Reality Computing.
At CES 2015, NVIDIA—a company that a lot of people associate with gaming technology but is also a leading developer of autonomous automotive platforms—demonstrated its new Drive PX and DriveCX computers that enable self-driving cars.
The Drive PX processes data from a range of sensors such as laser, radar, or cameras that capture and monitor the environment around the car. It then uses that live data combined with very sophisticated feature recognition technology it calls ‘deep neural learning’ to dynamically recognize objects around the car including other vehicles, street signs, road works, pedestrians, and so on. The Drive CX is the digital cockpit computer—in charge of speech processing, high-resolution digital instrument display, navigation, and infotainment graphics.
New models of some cars on the market already use Reality Computing to deliver aspects of self-driving like automatic parking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. But personally, I’m looking forward to the day when I can just get in my car, tell it where I want to go, and then sit back and enjoy the ride!