Nvidia shows Tegra X1-based cockpit, driver-assist computers for cars

After introducing the Tegra X1 this evening, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang made it clear that the new chip isn't aimed at phones. Rather, Nvidia envisions the Tegra X1 as a means of meeting the computational demands of next-generation cars. To that end, Huang announced two automotive reference systems based on the Tegra X1: the Drive CX digital cockpit computer and the Drive PX driver-assist car computer.

The Drive CX is designed to power dashboard displays and infotainment systems. It can process up to 16.6 megapixels—the equivalent of two 4K screens—and it comes with Nvidia's Drive Studio software, which runs on "any OS" and uses the Tegra X1 silicon to display things like physically rendered gauges that emulate dashboard materials. Drive Studio also includes staple functionality like voice commands and GPS navigation.

The Drive PX is a little more ambitious. With dual Tegra X1 chips, 12 camera inputs, and 1.3 gigapixels/sec of image processing power, this system is meant to power driver-assist functionality using an innovative pattern-recognition scheme based on neural networks. Nvidia claims the scheme, called deep neural network computer vision, surpasses the accuracy of traditional feature detectors—and can even recognize images "better than most humans." In all, Nvidia says the Drive PX can recognize 75 objects simultaneously, "enabling it to understand the environment around the car."

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    • xeridea
    • 5 years ago

    All the talk about the computer are meh, but if the image recognition software is as good as they say it may be worth looking into, though “better than mosts humans” is a rather bold statement. I kind of feel that driver assist in new cars is a fancy feature that gives drivers an excuse to not watch the road. Especially looking at the commercials, they make the driver look like they are daydreaming, and the car will magically save them from their stupidity.

      • 3SR3010R
      • 5 years ago

      [quote<]gives drivers an excuse to not watch the road[/quote<] They don't need excuses they do that now.

    • Elsoze
    • 5 years ago

    I’d actually be more interested in seeing what that PX board could do as a security system… track/recognize targets? Easily distinguish pets from people? Kids from adults? Can it take IR cameras and layer that on a normal camera footage? Automatically tag and log different objects?

    Actually, it’s kinda scary.

      • 3SR3010R
      • 5 years ago

      That is a great idea.

      • willmore
      • 5 years ago

      Man, you don’t want to know the kind of work that has already been done in this field. What you’re describing is over a decade old. And, yeah, it’s very scary.

      • albundy
      • 5 years ago

      nah, that’s what skynet’s for!

      • Deanjo
      • 5 years ago

      Actually I believe there are projects already doing that with a raspberry pi.

        • 3SR3010R
        • 5 years ago

        I doubt that the raspberry pi can handle what Nvidia is showing.

    • Neutronbeam
    • 5 years ago

    I’d feel better if there was a mention of encryption and hardening against hacking. Little things like the engine stopping or accelerating unintentionally, or the brakes failing because somebody wants to show off their skillz–or hold the car company for ransom-would tend to be a bit offputting.

      • 3SR3010R
      • 5 years ago

      It sounds like a closed system where data is only extracted/changed during service calls.

        • l33t-g4m3r
        • 5 years ago

        Doubt it. With the way things have been going with onstar, black boxes, and the NSA, I would instead assume the car is directly connected to the internet with remote control features, with the gov having unknown backdoors/exploits.

    • Hattig
    • 5 years ago

    I can easily and rapidly read the speed on one of those speedometers, and not the other.

    I’d far rather have this essential information projected onto the inside of the windscreen TBH.

    Using the on-board cameras for mirrorless driving is nice though, presuming a seamlessly stitched 180 degree rear view display mounted somewhere sensible.

      • xeridea
      • 5 years ago

      I like the left one it looks like a sword.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 5 years ago

    I bet that pretty speedometer makes my car go faster.

    • Chrispy_
    • 5 years ago

    Whoever thought that speedometer example was a good idea needs a severe beating.

      • AdamDZ
      • 5 years ago

      No kidding. That’s awful: ugly and hard to read.

      • Alexko
      • 5 years ago

      Indeed. It’s so hard to read (white needle against a very light background and small digits) that it’s borderline dangerous.

      Not to mention pointless.

    • l33t-g4m3r
    • 5 years ago

    WAAAAH!!! SKEUOMORPHISM!! LET’S MAKE THE DASH USE UNSHADED MONOCHROME TILES INSTEAD!! THAT WON’T CONFUSE DRIVERS AT ALL!!! /sarcasm.

      • AdamDZ
      • 5 years ago

      Let’s hope Johny Ive never gets into automotive GUI design…

    • crabjokeman
    • 5 years ago

    So I can make my speedometer far less readable, but increase my ‘wow’ factor with 14 year olds? Yes, Mr. Huang, I’ll buy two!

    Someone wake me when hover cars are here and we don’t have to worry about traffic anymore.

      • Wirko
      • 5 years ago

      A hover car can crash into many things that a road car can’t.

        • crabjokeman
        • 5 years ago

        That’s not what The Jetsons had me believe. Maybe “flying” cars would be more like my fantasy.

    • DrCR
    • 5 years ago

    Interesting I guess — as long as I have root-level access if I feel so inclined.

      • Welch
      • 5 years ago

      Doubting any sort of programmability of the PX and id also imagine its a seperate system from Nvidias other device for saftey and security, closed system. The last thing you want is a driver assist computer being net capable or programmable… could you imagine liability! Im sure DOT will have a lot to say about the PX if they havent already.

      Very cool Nvidia, glad to see them branching into a whole new market that most of their competitors dont really get involved in. We may see Nvidia on the rise if the adoption rate from luxury car manufacturers is good. Heck if they are priced cheap enough we may see the likes of mainstream auto makers including them as optional equipment.

        • NTMBK
        • 5 years ago

        They specifically highlighted the ability of the PX to receive OTA software updates… so yes, it’s net capable. And hence a huge liability.

          • 3SR3010R
          • 5 years ago

          Net capable (if the manufacturer allows) to upload unknown images for more deep learning training.

          Otherwise the uploads & updates happen during service calls.

    • xonarlover
    • 5 years ago

    I wonder how they plan on cooling these boards. The PX seems like it can be cooled passively, but knowing how hot a car can get, at least internally, they might require an active cooling solution.

    Of course, they’ll probably just put it near the external dashboard for easy access, so I’m probably making a moot point.

      • Ninjitsu
      • 5 years ago

      Most cars these days come with a microcontroller (or processor, not sure which) mounted next to the engine block.

      Cooling isn’t a problem when you can slap a giant heatsink on, though I think the silicon used in car electronics is suitable for much higher temperatures.

      Not sure about the X1 though. Seems to be as tolerant as anything else in the consumer space.

        • PainIs4ThaWeak1
        • 5 years ago

        “Most cars these days come with a microcontroller (or processor, not sure which) mounted next to the engine block.”

        Uhm….. ?

          • Deanjo
          • 5 years ago

          He’s correct, there are plenty of hot running silicon already on a modern vehicle (enough for automobile manufacturers to start considering switching to a 24-volt system) and some of that is found under the hood.

            • xeridea
            • 5 years ago

            Why would hot running chips warrant a 24v system? It is not uncommon for people to run 1000W+ audio systems no problem on 12v. 24V would require 2 batteries, and that is just more space. The reasoning for higher voltage is you don’t need as big of cables, but if your only going a foot or 2 it doesn’t matter that much.

            The ECU in cars is not under the hood, it is behind the firewall, inside the car. Who would think putting your ECU right next the the engine block would be a good idea? Same would go for other modern things like systems to run cameras and such.

            • willmore
            • 5 years ago

            Power dissipation is I^2R. V=IR, so double V and you can halve I. Halving I quarters power dissipation.

            • cynan
            • 5 years ago

            The above comment is still correct that the 12V vs 24V is a red herring. There is a negligible difference when running a few feet of wire from the battery to the motherboard. While these chips may run hot, they’re still not drawing [i<]that[/i<] much current (half dozen watts?) A 12 vs 24V battery system has nothing to do with the heat being generated at the processor.

            • willmore
            • 5 years ago

            Most ‘chips’ in cars aren’t CPUs, they’re MOSFETS or IGBTs and they benefit greatly from the change in voltage.

            • Deanjo
            • 5 years ago

            The ECU is not the only hot running piece of silicon in a modern vehicle. Funny you would mentioned autosound however as I recall an article by Harris and Navone nearly two decades ago in Autosound 2000 outlining why the need to switch automobile electrical systems to 24 volt in the future as audio systems were pushing their limit with 12. You wouldn’t need to have two batteries BTW, one 24-volt battery would suffice and wouldn’t be much larger.

            • curtisb
            • 5 years ago

            [quote<]Who would think putting your ECU right next the the engine block would be a good idea?[/quote<] Jeep/Chrysler for one. That's exactly where it is in my '92 Cherokee.

            • Deanjo
            • 5 years ago

            The ECM/TCM units on GM trucks are also located in the engine bay. Used to be pretty much right beside the battery.

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