CES Las Vegas: autonomous car becomes new normal
On January 12th the Brussels Motor Show is opening its door for the general public, but the ‘real motor show of the future’ is happening in Las Vegas these days with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). There the autonomous car is nothing more than ‘the new normal’.
Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, got only a lukewarmly applause when his autonomous car, developed with the Israeli Intel daughter Mobileye, drove up the stage during his keynote speech at the Park Theatre. It’s no big surprise if you already took a taxi without driver from Uber’s self-driving branch Lyft to get to the show anyway.
Chip makers are a key factor in developing the autonomous car and car manufacturers are eager to make partnerships. Like Volkswagen’s top guy Herbert Diess had to admit jumping on the stage during electronic board maker Nvidia’s CEO Jansen Huang to announce the partnership.
Super chip Xavier
“Autonomous, clean and digital connected driving is almost impossible without breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI), Diess said. Nvidia developed for Volkswagen, but also for some 319 other companies it made a deal with, the super-chip ‘Xavier’ among other technologies.
More than 2.000 engineers worked for four years on the super-chip, a project that consumed about 2 billion dollar of research money.
With its 9 billion transistors Xavier is able to make a staggeringly 30.000 billion calculations per second. Xavier will be the kind of brain that every self-driving car will need. Like a human, but without making mistakes, Xavier will have to decide how to behave in real traffic with what he ‘sees’.
Four terabytes a day
It will make use of several cameras (12 or more), radars and lidars and very precise digital maps to find its way, detect hazards and decide on the fly. “A self-driving car will have to analyze four terabytes of data a day”, says Huang. “You’ll need a super-chip with massive calculating power and a form of artificial intelligence to recognize ‘obstacles’ and ‘obstructions’ in the data flow.”
“It’s a daring exploit because the chip may never, never, never fail”, says Huang. Safer traffic is the ultimate argument for the autonomous car. Figures by the American agency for road traffic accidents show that 94% of all accidents are due to human failure. “The self driving car could save one and a half million lives a year”, argues Intel boss Krzanich.
e-Palette from Toyota
But Vegas today is not only about autonomous cars alone. Toyota for instance is showing its fully autonomous e-Palette that can deliver people and packages everywhere in the city. Be prepared to share your ride in the future with a bunch of Amazon packages…