Nvidia and Baidu, the Chinese web giant, will work together to build a platform for semi-autonomous vehicles. Baidu hopes to use the technology to build out its own taxi fleet, according to TechCrunch, but the two companies also plan to offer their system to car manufacturers, who could use it to add self-driving capabilities to their own vehicles.
The details of the partnership are really vague and involve a lot of buzzwords, including but not limited to "end to end," "top to bottom," and "cloud to car." But the gist sounds like this: Nvidia will bring its existing work on AI to the table, and Baidu will bring its work on mapping. Together, they’re hoping to make a system for delivering 3D maps to vehicles alongside an AI that knows how to get a car to navigate them.
Baidu is approved to test self-driving cars in California
This won’t be a fully autonomous driving system, however. The companies are only shooting for Level 3 autonomy, which is sort of like the awkward teenage stage of self-driving. It means a car can drive itself in some, but not all, circumstances; humans won’t need to closely monitor the car’s driving, but a human driver will need to take over here and there.
Elsewhere, Nvidia is already deep into its work on autonomous driving AI. Over the past two years, it’s been showing details of its Drive PX system, which is becoming the supercomputer brain for a driverless racing series.
At the same time, Baidu recently received approval to begin testing self-driving cars on California’s public roads. It plans to get that started soon; for now, there’s no word on whether Nvidia’s system will immediately be a part of the testing.