Long time partners Nvidia and Audi took the stage at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this week to announced that they would be working together on a Level 4 autonomous vehicle. A press release said that the pair would have the “world’s most advanced AI car” on the road by 2020.

The two companies have been working together for the better part of the last decade, but their latest project involves using deep learning to change the way we approach driving. Audi’s vehicles will tap Nvidia’s DRIVE PX platform, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) and neural networks to power self-driving cars.

“Audi’s adoption of our DRIVE computing platform for AI cars will accelerate the introduction of next-generation autonomous vehicles, moving us closer to a future of higher driving safety and new mobility services,” said NVIDIA founder and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang in a press release.

SEE: CES 2017 Special Coverage (CNET) | CES 2017 (TechRepublic) | CES 2017: The Big Trends for Business (ZDNet)

Nvidia is known for its work in graphics processor technologies, but the company has been gradually expanding to provide AI solutions as well. The company began testing its own self-driving car on public roads in California in December 2016.

The goal of Nvidia and Audi’s partnership, though, is to create a Level 4 autonomous vehicle. Level 4 is the first level at which a vehicle can be considered “fully autonomous,” but with limitations. According to official documentation, Level 4 vehicles are “designed to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions for an entire trip.”

To showcase what they have accomplished so far, Audi and Nvidia demoed a self-driving Audi Q7 SUV at CES. As reported by The Verge, Nvidia said that the car was able to learn to drive by itself in four days, with the help of AI. The demo vehicles uses Nvidia’s DRIVE PX 2 along with its DriveWorks software and a neural network technology known as PilotNet to pilot the vehicle. The pair of companies also provided demonstrations for conference attendees on a test course.

However, this isn’t all that Audi and Nvidia have in the works. “In the coming months, Audi will roll out its new A8, the world’s first Level 3 automated vehicle with its Traffic Jam Pilot system, powered by zFAS, which integrates NVIDIA hardware and software,” according to the press release.

While many automakers are working to create their own self-driving platform, Audi’s partnership with Nvidia showcases how a tech company could act as the platform provider for self-driving vehicles. And, if successful, it could help other car manufacturers develop autonomous solutions more quickly.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Nvidia and Audi announced at CES 2017 that they are working on a Level 4, fully autonomous vehicle to hit the market by 2020.
  2. The Audi vehicles will utilize Nvidia tools like its DRIVE PX platform and DriverWorks software to learn how to drive as a human driver would.
  3. Audi will be releasing a Level 3 autonomous A8 in the coming months.