Intel isn’t the only chipmaker with an eye on autonomous vehicles. Today at CES in Las Vegas, Nvidia and Audi announced their plans, which include putting a Level 4 autonomous car on the road in 2020.
The level refers to a scale developed by SAE International. Level 5 is the pinnacle, a vehicle operating with no human intervention. Level 4 vehicles would be almost fully driverless, making exceptions for difficult conditions such as severe weather.
Nvidia’s focus is on artificial intelligence (AI), an area served by the company’s graphical processing units (GPUs). Nvidia believes AI could be used not only to pilot the car but also to predict where you’ll want to go. The software could anticipate the office commute every morning, for instance.
The chipmaker’s tools for this environment include Drive PX 2, a platform that tracks what’s happening around the car and responds accordingly. Nvidia also offers the Tegra Visual Computing Module, which Audi, a longtime Nvidia customer, is using as part of zFAS, the carmaker’s driver-assistance controller.
zFAS will be used in the Audi A8, a Level 3 autonomous vehicle, meaning it can operate in highly predictable environments. Nvidia’s announcement says the A8 will be rolling out “in the coming months.”
Intel also used CES to talk about autonomous vehicles, assembling a collection of processors and software collectively called Intel GO and teaming up with BMW to announce a 40-car fleet coming in 2017.
Intel and Nvidia seem primed to compete on an increasing number of fronts. Nvidia claims its GPUs’ presence in data centers is on the rise. Intel, meanwhile, is putting new emphasis on machine learning, with moves including the acquisition of chip startup Nervana.