June 19, 2024

Nvidia is taking generative AI on the road with its auto tech at CES 2024

Nvidia (NVDA) is known for powering AI capabilities for companies around the world via its high-powered graphics processors. But at CES 2024, the company is highlighting how it’s using those same capabilities to power its automotive ambitions.

Part of that includes Nvidia building out self-driving and advanced driver safety, as well as using generative AI to better understand vehicles or interpret what’s happening around a car.

“There’s a massive amount of data that’s being generated from all the cameras on the car, the radar, lidar [light detection and ranging] on this vehicle, and that has to be processed in real time,” Nvidia VP of automotive Danny Shapiro told Yahoo Finance, while seated in the front of Mercedes’s CLA concept car at CES 2024.

“That’s when Nvidia comes in, providing the horsepower to take all that data, make sense of it, and understand exactly where the lanes are, where the potential hazards are, be able to read signs, check the lights, and so we’re bringing that out now to make these vehicles safer to be an assistance feature for them,” Shapiro added.

And with software-updateable vehicles, Nvidia says automakers will be able to add additional assistance features over time, with the hope that future vehicles will eventually get to full autonomy.

A sampling of some of the upcoming vehicles in which Nvidia's technology can be found. (Image: Nvidia)

A sampling of some of the upcoming vehicles in which Nvidia’s technology can be found. (Nvidia) (Nvidia)

But it’ll still take some time before we’re able to lie back in the driver seat, watching a movie or taking a nap while our cars ferry us to and fro. According to Shapiro, the industry initially underestimated the complexity of what it would take to get self-driving cars on the road.

That’s another place Nvidia says its technology comes into play. By building out digital twins, one-for-one digital recreations of vehicles and cities in its Omniverse platform, Nvidia says it can teach self-driving AI how to handle various weather and driving situations.

The thinking is that by training an AI in a digital world and throwing anything they can imagine at it, Nvidia will be able to speed up the development of self-driving vehicles without having to risk potential accidents in the real world.

Generative AI, the standout technology of 2023, is also a part of Nvidia’s auto efforts. According to Shapiro, gen AI will help provide drivers with a complete rundown of a vehicle and why it’s taking certain actions.

“Mercedes can train this large language model with the history of Mercedes vehicles, with all the information about the CLA concept, the manual, the service bank, whatever it is, so that when you have a dialogue with that vehicle, it comes back with the right answer,” he said.

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“Imagine we have an automated vehicle, the front-facing cameras taking in 30 frames a second of video. We can then use a large language model to convert the pixels in that video into an explanation of what’s happening in the scene,” explained Shapiro.

Nvidia’s automotive business is still a relatively small part of the company’s total revenue. During Nvidia’s fiscal third quarter, the segment brought in $261 million. That’s compared to the $2.86 billion the company’s gaming division generated and the $14.51 billion its data center business brought in.

The company currently offers a variety of car tech including infotainment capabilities, but the eventual hope is that the business expands further as the self-driving technologies mature over time. For now, though, Nvidia’s advanced driver assistance functionality continues to improve.

Now if I can just figure out a way to get that kind of stuff into my old Mustang.

Daniel Howley is the tech editor at Yahoo Finance. He’s been covering the tech industry since 2011. You can follow him on Twitter @DanielHowley.

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