NVIDIA Corp (NASDAQ:NVDA) stock hit an all-time high in Friday’s regular session after the visual computing firm said it is working together with Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU) to build a cloud-based mapping system to create artificially intelligent [AI] self-driving cars. Nvidia, whose shares currently print a one year return of about 184%, and a year-to-date return of around 92%, is known in the tech industry for their graphic processing units (GPUs) and systems on a chip (SoCs). These are commonly used for mobile computing. On the other hand, Baidu is the biggest search engine in China just like how Google is to the rest of the world.
Jen-Hsun Huang, Nvidia CEO, declared this collaboration last Wednesday during the Baidu World Conference in Beijing. Baidu looks to integrate its capabilities in cloud mapping with Nvidia’s AI driving platform. Together, the companies look to develop vehicles that have high-definition maps and upscale autonomous vehicle control. The vehicles should also be capable of automated parking.
The revelation was made just after the California Department of Motor Vehicles approved Baidu’s request to test autonomous vehicles on public roads.
Wang Jing, general manager of Baidu’s Autonomous Driving unit, released a statement saying, “Baidu has already built a strong team in Silicon Valley to develop autonomous driving technologies, and being able to do road tests will greatly accelerate our progress.”
Nvidia’s Jen-Hsun commented, “We’re going to bring together the technical capabilities and the expertise in AI and the scale of two world-class AI companies to build the self-driving car architecture from end-to-end, from top-to-bottom, from the cloud to the car.” Hsun continued by saying, “We can start applying these capabilities to solve the grand challenges of AI, one of which is intelligent machines…one of the intelligent machines we would like to build in the future is the self-driving car.”
During the conference, the companies unveiled the Drive PX 2 system. This miniature supercomputer was made to be the vehicle’s brains. It will allow the car to practically drive itself. It should distinguish and respond to different road and traffic situations. Basically, this technology should be responsible for the driving operations. The device is as small as a license plate but is very powerful. It will recognize and learn the varying conditions, vehicle types, pedestrians, landmarks, and other information. Nvidia claims the Drive PX 2 can process 24 trillion deep learning operations per second.
In an interview with TechNewsWorld, Frost & Sullivan Mobility Research Manager Praveen Chandrasekar said, “The partnership between these two giants is to bring a high-quality 3D Map that is connected to cloud and continuously updated to support highly automated and fully autonomous driving. Baidu brings its cloud and mapping capabilities, and Nvidia will be using its Drive PX2 supercomputer AI platform to co-create this framework.”
Chandrasekar continued by saying, “Essentially the two entities are creating a support framework that will provide a highly localized mapping system that will enable the vehicles to plan for a longer distance beyond the reach of the conventional sensors.”
There is a chance that Baidu uses the Drive PX 2 on its own taxi fleet. Recently, they invested in Didi Chuxing that plans to acquire the operations of Uber in China.
Since December, Baidu has taken huge steps in its plans to conquer the self-driving vehicle industry. They performed the first fully-autonomous road test in China with the help of it sensor system. Together with Ford, Baidu has invested $150 million in Velodyne LiDAR which makes light, detection and ranging technology for 3D digital imaging.
About 80 automotive companies are looking into the Drive PX 2 technology. These include Sweden’s Volvo and China’s Geely.