Nvidia will suspend its autonomous vehicle testing on public roads in the aftermath of Uber’s fatal crash in Arizona, Reuters reports. Uber is a customer of Nvidia’s, using the chipmaker’s computing platform in its fleet of self-driving cars.
Nvidia had been testing its self-driving cars in New Jersey, California, Japan, and Germany. The company is hosting its annual GPU Technology Conference in San Jose this week, where it is expected to make several announcements regarding its automotive products.
“The accident was tragic. It’s a reminder of how difficult SDC technology is and that it needs to be approached with extreme caution and the best safety technologies,” a Nvidia spokesperson said in an email. “This tragedy is exactly why we’ve committed ourselves to perfecting this life-saving technology. Ultimately AVs will be far safer than human drivers, so this important work needs to continue. We are temporarily suspending the testing of our self-driving cars on public roads to learn from the Uber incident. Our global fleet of manually driven data collection vehicles continue to operate.”
Uber had been using Nvidia’s tech for a while
The company is the latest to halt autonomous vehicle testing after a self-driving Uber car struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, last week. Toyota also said it would pause its testing in cities across the globe, citing the “emotional toll” of the Uber crash on its safety drivers.
In addition to testing its own self-driving cars, Nvidia also manufactures powerful computing platforms for use in autonomous vehicles. Earlier this year, Nvidia began selling its Xavier chip for use in self-driving cars. The chipmaker says it has 320 clients in the automotive space.
Uber has been using Nvidia’s self-driving technology in its autonomous test cars for a while, though the companies only just started to talk about it earlier this year. Uber has said it would use Nvidia’s tech in its eventual self-driving fleets of Volvos as well as the company’s autonomous trucks. But Uber has also halted its AV testing in all the cities in which it operates, and the governor of Arizona suspended the company from testing its self-driving cars in the state “indefinitely.”
The types of computers produced by Nvidia and its competitors like Intel are arguably the most important part of the driverless car. Everything the vehicle “sees” with its sensors, all of the images, mapping data, and audio material picked up by its cameras needs to be processed by giant PCs in order for the vehicle to make split-second decisions. All this processing must be done with multiple levels of redundancy to ensure the highest level of safety.
Update March 27th, 1:17PM ET: post has been updated to include a new statement from Nvidia.