Chinese web service company Baidu, Inc. is one of the companies that has invested in self-driving vehicles, and a new partnership will help it get these autonomous vehicles on roads faster.
Announced at the Baidu World Conference, Nvidia Corp. CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said a partnership with Baidu will utilize artificial intelligence in developing a computing platform for self-driving cars. The platform will also include the use of cloud-based high-definition maps.
“We’re going to bring together the technical capabilities and the expertise in AI and the scale of two world-class AI companies to build the self-driving car architecture from end-to-end, from top-to-bottom, from the cloud to the car,” Huang said.
Cutting-edge AI architecture
Nvidia’s architecture for self-driving vehicles include the AI supercomputer Drive PX, an AI algorithm-based operating system, and a cloud-based high-definition 3D map that constantly updates.
The computing platform, which will be an open source platform, will also be used by Baidu to offer self-driving taxis in China.
The announcement came just in time as Baidu has been granted autonomous vehicle testing by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. This allows Baidu to test its self-driving vehicles in the state of California. Baidu is not the first one to test self-driving taxis as nuTonomy is already testing such in Singapore, where it has deployed six self-driving taxis and plans to roll six more before the year ends. A select members of the public are already able to hail these self-driving taxis.
The partnership with Nvidia is part of a larger plan for Baidu which aims to sell self-driving car to the masses in multiple countries by 2021. Back in December, Baidu has successfully navigated a challenging 18.6-mile route in Beijing using a modified BMW 3-Series.
Baidu’s commitment to self-driving vehicles was further solidified when it invested $150 million, along with Ford Motors Company, into Velodyne LiDAR, the leading supplier of technology that allows self-driving vehicles navigate roads safely.
AI and machine intelligence: killer apps
What AI can bring in the future has been the stuff of science fiction for decades. Whether the future looks like Rosie the robot (from the Jetsons), the Terminator, a city filled Johnny Cabs from Total Recall (the good one), or interactive computers, there is little doubt that voice and visual human interfaces are the stuff of technology dreams. That’s what’s happening right now and what’s behind it is a surge in analytic engines and ever-growing volumes of data.
That requires a lot of IT to drive all of this, but it’s important not to get caught up in processing data for the sake of processing data itself. You see, artificial intelligence can manifest in a number of ways, but mainly in the way we can quickly access vast amounts of data. An AI driving compute platform is the very definition of such a system. Machine intelligence takes things to another level, and it all counts on context. Re-imagine that AI driving grid for a minute. Data makes it all work, but machine intelligence helps us as humans to understand and explain that data. Information like weather, GPS coordinates, construction, your personal timeliness tendencies, and many more points of information take this to the level of machine intelligence, because of the many sources and the correlation of data. Analyzing that information at the speed of computers means you can get out the door 5 minutes early–which means you can actually make a detour to that breakfast stop.
In a way, it sounds subtle, but the best ideas always seem like something that always should have been. What isn’t so obvious on the surface is that the logic and infrastructure that will continue to drive these changes are massive in scope and importance.
This is but one case where the difference between consumer technologies and business technologies are negligible, and are rather synergistic. Business can apply machine intelligence to critical decisions by leveraging the right technologies. Right now, the industry is very bullish on AI and machine intelligence. Just look at how Microsoft has built an entire research division dedicated to pushing the envelope. Google, (Alphabet or whatever) – has always been in this game. What are Siri or Alexa but gateways to respective digital and/or goods ecosystems? AI is the KILLER APP. Numbers and data are great, but the why behind the numbers, as well as “what’s next”? are even better.
Image Source: Shutterstock, Baidu