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Nvidia is bringing AI-powered co-pilots to future vehicles

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor

Nvidia (NVDA) drove into CES 2018 riding high as the go-to chip maker for the up and coming self-driving car industry. And the company is going to roll out in even better position, thanks to the introduction of its new artificial intelligence-powered co-pilot system. 

Dubbed Nvidia Drive IX, or intelligent experience, the software will serve as a kind of guardian angel for both drivers and passengers alike. Powered by Nvidia’s new Xavier system on a chip running in its Nvidia Drive Pegasus AI platform, Drive IX is designed to work in future fully autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles.

Volkswagen will be among the first automakers to take advantage of Drive IX, installing the system in its Buzz I.D. prototype vehicle.

Volkswagen is among the first automakers to develop Nvidia IX software to create an AI-powered co-pilot.

AI is my co-pilot

According to Nvidia, Drive IX will allow automakers to create digital assistants that function as co-pilots that monitor every aspect of your driving experience and alert you if they see something you don’t.

Say, for example, you’re driving and you look down to grab something in your center console or on the passenger seat when someone steps off of the curb in front of you. Drive IX will see the pedestrian using your car’s external sensors and recognize that you’re looking away from the road using your car’s internal sensors. It will then immediately alert you that someone is in the road, so you can take the appropriate action.

The Nvidia Xavier system on a chip will power autonomous vehicle technologies.

Nvidia says Drive IX will also be able to use facial recognition technology to unlock and start your car without a key, alert you when you’re drowsy and even open your lift gate as you approach your vehicle.

It’s an interesting prospect for the future of driving, as it could ensure you stay focused, while helping to keep you aware of road hazards you might not recognize on your own. There’s no doubt some drivers will be turned off by these kind of nanny features, so automakers will likely include ways for consumers to override their vehicles’ co-pilots.

Augmenting your drive

In addition to Drive IX, Nvidia announced its Drive AR, or augmented reality, software. Drive AR will let automakers create digital overlays drivers will see projected onto the real world. Nvidia says the technology will enable features like notifications or information for points of interest and improved navigation.

All of this tech comes via Nvidia’s new Pegasus AI computing platform. Built using two of the company’s powerful Xavier systems on a chip and two graphics processing units, Pegasus takes the kind of autonomous driver hardware that use to take up the trunk of a car, and shrinks it down to the size of a license plate.

Nvidia says automakers will begin receiving their first versions of Pegasus starting in mid-2018. Many companies believe they’ll have fully-autonomous vehicles available between 2020 and 2025. If that’s the case, Pegasus is likely to play a big role in that push.

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Email Daniel Howley at dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.