Nvidia was granted a permit yesterday by the California Department of Motor Vehicles to start testing self-driving vehicle technology on the state’s public roads. The company joins a growing list of autonomous vehicle testers in California that features the likes of Google, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Ford, and GM, as well as startups like Faraday Future and NextEV.
Apparently Nvidia didn’t waste any time once the permit was approved, too. Reader James Molinaro sent in these photos of an Nvidia car on the road in the Bay Area yesterday morning:
While Nvidia is best known for its graphics cards, the company has spent the last few years steadily pushing into artificial intelligence, with an emphasis on autonomous driving. It announced a computer vision system tailor-made for self-driving at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2015, and then followed that up with a more advanced version — called the Drive PX2 — at this past year’s CES.
Since then, Nvidia announced that it was partnering with Chinese web giant Baidu to build a platform for semiautonomous cars. (Baidu has approval to test autonomous cars in California as well.) Nvidia also built test cars, and was training them in parking lots and private roads prior to receiving this new approval from the California DMV. And this summer, a self-driving race car competition called Roborace announced that it was using the Drive PX2 in its vehicles.
California has been a hotbed for autonomous testing, but that status is becoming decreasingly unique. A handful of other states have been slowly warming to the idea as a way to generate business. Just today, Michigan passed a handful of bills that greatly expand the amount of testing that can happen in the state, while also paving the way to allow manufacturers to either sell self-driving cars or establish a Uber-like networks of autonomous vehicles.
Update December 9th, 5:38PM ET: Added photos of Nvidia’s cars performing preliminary test drives. Post has been updated to reflect this.