NVIDIA shows off autonomous tech for cards and robots at CES 2020

Gaming tech isn't the only thing that NVIDIA is displaying at CES 2020: It's also using graphics cards to power automated vehicles and AI-powered robots.

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NVIDIA's CES 2020 lineup features gaming hardware and software, but the company is also displaying its commitment to GPU-driven artificial intelligence (AI) tools for autonomous vehicles and robots. 

Gaming features like ray-tracing technology, new 360Hz displays designed for esports, and other next-gen gaming products are available for consumers to drool over, but business leaders are far more likely to be intrigued by the autonomous technology NVIDIA is showing off.

Leading NVIDIA's charge into autonomous software are two products: NVIDIA Isaac, its robotics development platform, and DRIVE AGX Orin, the latest component of NVIDIA's software-defined automated vehicle (AV) platform.

SEE: All of TechRepublic's CES 2020 coverage (TechRepublic)

NVIDIA DRIVE: A new wave in cooperative machine learning?

DRIVE, NVIDIA's AV platform, has been around for some time, but two big developments in the platform make it a major player in the growing AV market. 

First up is the recent announcement of DRIVE AGX Orin, a new platform based around the Orin system-on-a-chip (SoC). Orin is reportedly seven times faster than NVIDIA's last SoC, Xavier. Orin was designed with AVs in mind, and is part of a scalable platform NVIDIA will be rolling out in vehicles starting in 2022. 

NVIDIA DRIVE is an end-to-end platform, meaning it's built for data collection, model training, simulations, and learning in the real world. All of the data collected by DRIVE is used to build models that can be modified to suit OEM needs, and many OEMs, like Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and Uber are already useing it.

Here's where the second big AV announcement comes in: NVIDIA is opening up the platform to all AV companies and attempting to build a "federated learning" system that will make NVIDIA DRIVE one of the smartest, most well-modeled AV platforms available. 

SEE: CES 2020 coverage from CNET (CNET)

The pre-trained models that are available in NVIDIA DRIVE, which are available from the NVIDIA cloud to DRIVE customers, will now incorporate data from any customer that participates in its shared learning system. Private data will stay private, so companies don't need to worry about trade secrets being stolen, but the important lessons learned by various models will all flow into one big repository of AV knowledge. 

If it works it could be a major step forward in creating a shared AV system that works together to make the roads safer and automated vehicles smarter. 

NVIDIA Isaac on display

NVIDIA announced new features of its Isaac robotics dev kit in mid December, and it's going to be showing those features off at CES.

Included in the recent release are features like 3D pose estimation, 2D human pose estimation, Isaac Sim (a virtual training environment), and a transfer learning tool that will give trained models the ability to adapt to new hardware.

Several Isaac-powered robots will be on display at CES 2020, including an autonomous wheelchair from WHILL (a CES 2019 innovation winner), a flying home security drone, the Toyota T-HR3 humanoid partner robot, and others. 

NVIDIA's products will be on display at its CES booth, while robots using its software will be on display at partner booths throughout the show.

Also see

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The Orin chip for NVIDIA DRIVE. 

Image: NVIDIA