The autonomous vehicle industry is showing signs of accelerating, which is great news for the company leading the way in producing the mechanical brain that aims to one day replace that of the human driver. With its DRIVE PX artificial intelligence (AI) computing platform, as well as being regarded as the market leader in centralized fusion processing by analysts at Needham & Co., Nvidia Corp. (NVDA) is well positioned to be that company, according to Barron’s.

Last week’s $450 million acquisition of self-driving startup nuTonomy by Delphi Automotive is just the most recent sign that the autonomous driving industry is alive and well. But, other big names including Tesla Motors Inc.,  (TSLA), Alphabet's Google Inc. (GOOGL), Uber, General Motors (GM), BMW (BMW) and Mercedes (DAI), continue to push for market dominance. The next phase of this push will likely see increasing growth of autonomous vehicle testing fleets. (To read more, see: How Google Will Beat Tesla, GM in Self-Driving Cars.)

Key Partnership

MIT spin-off technology startup nuTonomy, which operates 60 self-driving test vehicles, was partnered with Nvidia prior to Delphi’s acquisition announcement. According to the analysts at Needham, Nvidia will benefit as Delphi will only help speed up nuTonomy’s ambitious plans of deploying a self-driving taxi service in Singapore sometime next year.

The partnership with Nvidia was key for nuTonomy’s push for the coveted goal of Level 5 autonomy, the highest ranking for self-driving vehicles indicating full operational capabilities under any roadway or environmental condition without human aid or intervention. Nvidia’s DRIVE PX Pegasus “is the kind of platform that will be required to support” the systems of a Level 5 autonomous vehicle, according to nuTonomy’s CEO Karl Iagnemma. (To read more, see: Why Nvidia, Intel, AMD, Broadcom Could Surge on Momentum.)    

An AI Advantage

The DRIVE PX is an AI system that combines a number of technologies that enable an automobile to sense its surroundings through the fusion of data collected by cameras and other sensors, and then to be able to respond to that data, maneuvering the vehicle in a way that allows passengers to arrive safely at their destination. 

Pegasus, unveiled just weeks ago, is Nvidia’s latest DRIVE PX platform. CEO Jensen Huang claims that the new platform has AI performance capabilities of a data center with 100 servers, and will make Level 5 self-driving vehicles a reality. That means we could someday be living in a world where human drivers are obsolete. (To read more, see: NVIDIA Launches Chip for Autonomous Vehicles.)

With Pegasus set to be made available to Nvidia’s automotive partners in mid 2018, that world may come a lot sooner than you think.