FRANCE: Modular approach drives NVIDIA infotainment

By Simon Warburton | 7 October 2014

"We bring amazing horsepower" - NVIDIA senior director of marketing automotive

"We bring amazing horsepower" - NVIDIA senior director of marketing automotive

Visual computing specialist, NVIDIA, says its modular approach to the automotive sector is enabling it to update software for infotainment systems more rapidly than before.

The California-based company, originally born out of the gaming sector, has moved into the auto space and as well as infotainment and navigation, also produces digital instrument clusters, driver assistance and rear-seat entertainment systems.

"It used to take five to seven years in the automotive world to create an infotainment system, but now what we have done is fit a modular approach," NVIDIA senior director of marketing automotive, Danny Shapiro, told just-auto at the Paris Motor Show.

"The software is updated even more frequently. What we have done is take the mobile technology, make it auto grade and put it into the car. Anywhere where you display graphics, we create these visuals.

"It is expensive to engineer and develop these things. The hardware is not really the cost, it is the software."

Rapid advances in smartphone technology are also some of the drivers behind vehicle users demanding ever-greater use of technologies, with end customers seeking more parity between their communication devices and mobility.

In tandem with those advances, NVIDIA is also working with global technology giants, Google and Apple to bring "amazing horsepower" to the market.

NVIDIA released its latest Tegra K1 mobile processor earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, based on the same technology that is cloud-based super computers.

Shortly after the show, Shapiro noted the technology would allow better on-board speech and facial recognition, gaze tracking and driver alert monitoring, while the company is also looking to provide an automotive 'brain' to coordinate safety systems.

"We are seeing more sensors on vehicles, such as radar or LiDar [light detection and ranging]," said Shapiro. "These are eyes and ears, but you need to have a brain and that is exactly what we have developed.

"Our technology is the brain behind the system. It is not just convenience features, it is safety features."

NVIDIA says its processors will "fundamentally change the way people drive," redefining traffic sign recognition, blind spot detection and lane-departure warnings, as well as driver-alertness monitoring, assisted parking and night vision.

With the ability to run native NVIDIA CUDA code, the newest Tegra VCM will bring new apps into the car, enabling more advanced collision-avoidance systems.

Shapiro also insisted the cost of computing power would reduce as volumes increased, while the increasing addition of safety elements would save lives.

"We are going to achieve huge savings in terms of saving lives and accidents," he said.