Nvidia’s Linux-controlled Drive PX car computer offers Level 5 autonomy

Jonathan MathewsPublic

Nvidia unveiled a “Drive PX Pegasus” computer for Level 5 self-driving cars that runs Linux on up to 4x octa-core “Xavier” SoCs and a 640-core Volta GPU.

At the GPU Technology Conference in Munich, Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang announced a more powerful version of the chip designer’s Linux-based Drive PX platform for autonomous cars. Drive PX Pegasus is the first system to promise a new class of fully autonomous Level 5 driverless vehicles “without steering wheels, pedals or mirrors.” The compact Drive PX Pegasus computer can process over 320 trillion operations per second, or 10 times the power of last year’s Drive PX 2, claims Nvidia.

Drive PX Pegasus integrates up to four of Nvidia’s new octa-core Xavier SoCs, with integrated Volta GPUs, and adds two more discrete GPUs (see farther below). The computer fuses inputs from high-resolution, 360-degree surround cameras, radars, and LIDARs to perceive a car’s surroundings and localize it within centimeter accuracy. Pegasus features multiple levels of redundancy, helping it reliably track vehicles and people around the car, and then plan a safe path.

German mail and logistics giant Deutsche Post DHL Group (DPDHL) and automotive supplier ZF plan to deploy a test fleet of autonomous delivery trucks based on Pegasus starting in 2018. Deutsche Post DHL will outfit its electric light trucks with ZF’s Pegasus based ProAI self-driving system. DPDHL showed off a Pegasus powered prototype delivery vehicle with six cameras, two LIDARs, and one radar.

At least 25 partners are already working on Level 5 compliant “robotaxis” using Pegasus, with most of them initially slated for use on campuses, airports, and other relatively controlled environments. The “license plate” sized Pegasus system is said to replace a Drive PX 2 system that takes up most of a car’s storage trunk, enabling smaller self-driving vehicles or robotaxis with more passenger and cargo room.

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