CES 2015: Nvidia shows off powerful Drive technology for smart cars

Nvidia has been showing off its new automotive computer system over at CES, letting us know some of the details of Nvidia Drive.

There will be two in-car computers made by Nvidia, in fact – Drive PX for the actual driving side of the smart car equation, and Drive CX for the digital systems on the dashboard and elsewhere in the vehicle.

Drive PX is an ‘auto-pilot’ system powered by Nvidia’s new Tegra X1 mobile chip, and it doesn’t just offer assisted parking, but an auto-valet feature. In other words, when you arrive at a car park, you can just get out and let the car go find a vacant space and park itself. When you return after your shopping trip, you can use your smartphone to let the vehicle know you’re back, and it will then drive over to pick you up.

The system will also be able to learn to differentiate vehicles and be able to tell an ambulance from a van, for example, or the difference between a parked car and one about to pull out onto the road. This sort of situational awareness will help prevent accidents, or that’s certainly the idea.

As for Drive CX, that’s the hardware and software cockpit solution which facilitates digital instrument clusters, navigation, in-car entertainment, and driver monitoring. It will utilise ‘surround-vision’ to give a top-down 360 degree view of the car in real-time, and digital smart mirrors too, meaning no more wing mirror issues like blind spots.

CX will also be powered by the Tegra X1, or Tegra K1 for a cheaper solution, with the system apparently able to drive 16.8 million pixels over multiple displays – that’s ten times as powerful as current car technology.

Thilo Koslowski, vice president and analyst at Gartner, commented: "The realisation of smart automobiles requires high-performance processing solutions that enable sophisticated sensor fusion and innovative machine learning. This will create a new class of self-aware and ultimately self-driving vehicles that can assess, sense, understand and react to the state of their surroundings and occupants."

Nvidia says that this tech will be ready to go in the second quarter of 2015.