The world’s largest consumer technology show, CES 2018, takes place in a few days time in Las Vegas, but to start the ball rolling graphics card manufacturer NVIDIA has held its regular press conference. Taking the stage is CEO Jensen Huang who has now showcased the company’s plans to aid self-driving cars, a simulator called AutoSIM.
The software is very much like a virtual reality (VR) experience for autonomous cars, allowing manufacturers to test the cars reactions to everyday scenarios on the roads. Huang notes that AutoSIM is ‘Binary compatible’ meaning that the software running the simulations is the same as those that run the cars self-driving systems.
AutoSIM also allows NVIDIA to create dangerous situations that couldn’t be performed in the real world, but in the simulator they can be enacted and repeated as many times as needed. Human controlled car drivers can also be added to the mix, altering their acceleration, or swerving erratically to test the self-driving cars sensors.
“Ultimately, the most important feature of a self-driving car is not that it drives by itself, the most important feature is actually safety,” Jensen said. “We’ve developed one of the most complex simulation environments we’ve ever done, which basically allows us to either with software models of our entire driving stack, or a hardware model of our entire software stack and run it inside a virtual reality simulator.”
Another benefit of AutoSIM is its ability to not only run in real time but also much, much faster. Thus enabling NVIDIA to cover billions of miles over a much shorter time period.
The virtual world has been made entirely configurable to suit any parameters, basic changes like moving the sun for example test a self-driving cars sensors with shadows or direct glare off the road. The same goes for the cameras on a car, these can be moved about for optimal position no matter what type of car they’re on.
As NVIDIA continues to develop VR for various industries VRFocus will keep you updated.