Nvidia teams with Paccar to power self-driving trucks

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Nvidia Corp.’s efforts to bring its self-driving technology to more vehicles has taken another step forward as the chip maker announced a new deal with truck maker Paccar Inc. on Thursday.

Paccar, the manufacturer of Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF trucks, has developed a proof-of-self-driving truck with SAE Level 4, or completely autonomous, capability built on Nvidia’s Drive PX2 platform that uses deep neural networks to guide the vehicle.

According to a blog post from the company, the semi-tractor trailer has already been tested on a closed-course and was capable of handling a variety of situations without a driver behind the wheel. “Paccar is exploring automated driving systems and we are excited about what our collaboration on artificial intelligence with NVIDIA has delivered so far,” Paccar Chief Executive Ron Armstrong noted.

The announcement comes a day after Nvidia announced a new partnership with Robert Bosch GmbH to develop an autonomous navigation system for tomorrow’s self-driving vehicles. The company is also working separately with Audi AG to develop a self-driving car ready for sale to the general public by 2020.

Self-driving trucks have become a new frontier in the quest to develop driverless vehicles, particularly given the commercial benefits of improved driver productivity, enhanced transportation efficiency and increased safety.

Uber Technologies Inc. is one player in the space, having acquired self-driving truck company Otto in August for a figure believed to be $680 million including earn-outs on future profits from the company. It’s now embroiled in a lawsuit by Google Inc.’s Waymo autonomous car unit alleging Uber has documents stolen by one of its executives before he left Google. Intel Corp. recently upped its presence in the technology with a $15.3 billion acquisition of Mobileye NV, a maker of sensors used in autonomous vehicle platforms that also designs autonomous safety systems for heavy trucks.

Nvidia’s deal was generally well-received, with shares in the company trading up 1.23 percent in after-hours trading to close at $105.09.

Picture: Ildar Sagdejev/Wikimedia Commons