This U.S. Chipmaker Will Help Mercedes Bring an AI-Powered Car to Market

January 7, 2017, 4:46 PM UTC
Courtesy of Nvidia

Mercedes-Benz says it will roll out a production vehicle in the next 12 months powered by Nvidia’s artificial intelligence computer, just days after the U.S. chipmaker announced a partnership German Audi to use the same platform.

Both announcements were made during CES, the annual consumer electronics show in Las Vegas. However, the end products will likely be very different. Audi says it will use the Nvidia AI computer to bring autonomous vehicles to the road by 2020.

Mercedes nor Nvidia (NVDA) have not said what capabilities will be in this upcoming AI-powered car. However, based on comments made during the announcement, it appears Mercedes is keen on using AI to personalize the driving experience.

“At this point, it is very very clear that AI is going to be the future of computing,” said Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, who along with Mercedes Vice President of Digital Vehicle and Mobility Sajjad Khan, made the announcement during a public talk at the automaker’s booth at CES. “And it is clear that AI is going to revolutionize the future of automobiles.”

This is an endeavor Nvidia and Mercedes started three years ago, Huang added.

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Nvidia has made a number of announcements at CES, all focused on leveraging computing power to apply artificial intelligence to a variety of products in the home and the car. One feature, which Huang presented during his keynote speech at CES, is Co-Pilot, an AI system that recognizes a person’s voice and face, can read lips, and detect the driver’s gaze. The feature shows how an AI-powered car might interact with a driver to eliminate the need for a key to gain entry to their vehicle, ensure they’re paying attention, and easily respond to commands even when the radio is playing music loudly.

It’s possible that Mercedes is working on a car with these kinds of capabilities.

To bring personalized services into the car the automaker needs to employ software and computational power, Khan noted Friday. “If you have really great computational power than you really can do the things in a way that comes very natural to the user,” he added.

Nvidia’s original architecture for self-driving cars is based on an AI supercomputer called Drive PX that’s powerful enough to process data from the vehicle’s cameras and sensors, an AI algorithm-based operating system, and a cloud-based high-definition 3D map that constantly updates.

The chipmaker also recently introduced a more advanced AI supercomputer chip called Xavier that’s about the size of a thumbnail and can deliver 30 trillion operations per second of performance while consuming 3o watts of power.