Thirty years since the first driverless car plan was initiated, many companies have carried out their early research into reality by proving that cars can indeed drive by themselves. Now they’re working to sort out those practical bits. Those include regulations, liability, security, business models, and turning prototypes into production vehicles, by miniaturizing the electronics and reducing that massive electricity draw.
Today’s self-drivers don’t need extra engines, but they still use terrific amounts of power to run their onboard sensors and do all the calculations needed to analyze the world and make driving decisions. And it’s becoming a problem. A production car you can buy today, with just cameras and radar, generates something like 6 gigabytes of data every 30 seconds. It’s even more for a self-driver, with additional sensors like LiDAR. Prototypes use around 2,500 watts, enough to light 40 incandescent light bulbs.
Nvidia although has offered a solution. Nvidia believes that a fully self-sufficient, no-steering-wheel-or-pedals kind of driverless car will need to run on a platform it’s calling Pegasus. With two Xavier chips and two more GPUs, this platform can crunch 320 trillion operations per second and keep power consumption to an acceptable 500 watts.