A fully autonomous vehicle on the industry by 2020: That’s the stated purpose of Audi and Nvidia. The two companies formally announced their partnership at the 2017 CES technology show in Las Vegas, where the duo marked the occasion by bringing a self-driving Audi Q7 to the show.
Wrapped in splashy graphics and fitted with Nvidia’s Drive PX two artificial-intelligence platform, the autonomous Q7 Deep Learning concept relies on neural networks and deep studying to attain an understanding of its surrounding environment—a dynamism missing in preprogrammed systems—by taking in info for the duration of driving sessions initially completed by a human user. Despite this achievement, each Audi and Nvidia acknowledge the current idea is merely a demonstration of what’s to come, as additional neural network platforms will require to be integrated to produce an automated automobile ready for use on public roads. That reality, paired with the truth that Nevada law demands that a human operator be seated behind the wheel of roadgoing autonomous vehicles, meant Audi and Nvidia fenced off an region of the parking lot outside the Las Vegas Convention Center to produce a closed course for the self-driving Q7.
With an empty driver’s seat, a dashboard-mounted screen displaying a live feed from the automated Q7’s front-mounted camera, and a representative of the project in the front passenger seat to hold tabs on the car, we sat in the crossover’s comfy second-row bench seat and played Miss Daisy to the Q7’s Hoke Colburn. From there we watched the vehicle operate the wheel, throttle, and brakes with the expertise of a seasoned chauffeur, cruising without having a hiccup more than a modest sections of dirt and grass and quickly adjusting course when a handful of Audi and Nvidia group members attempted to confuse the method by placing an obstacle in its path.
The automated Q7 Deep Learning concept performed admirably, but the controlled nature of the drive left us a little cold. We eventually exited the concept feeling significantly the same as we had after seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens—not overly impressed, but excited to see what’s to come.
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