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NVIDIA Gears Up to Strengthen Position in Self-Driving Cars

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Over the last few years, NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA - Free Report) has been putting in a lot of effort to strengthen its position in several emerging industries. Apart from Artificial Intelligence (AI) and deep learning, the company is working hard to establish itself in the driverless cars industry, and yes, its efforts have been rather impressive.

Recent Development

The graphic chip behemoth unveiled a new AI supercomputer chip designed for self-driving cars called Xavier at its GPU Technology Conference (GTC) in Amsterdam yesterday. At the conference, NVIDIA’s CEO Jen-Hsun Huang explained the capabilities of Xavier by saying “This is the greatest SoC endeavour I have ever known, and we have been building chips for a very long time”.

Xavier is a system-on-chip (SoC) which is built with an 8-core ARM64-based CPU and a next generation 512 core NVIDIA GPU. The chip also integrates a new computer vision accelerator.

As per the company, the processor is capable of delivering 20 trillion operations per second (TOPS) of performance, while consuming just 20 watts of power. The company anticipates making the processor available to automakers and other groups developing self-driving cars during the fourth quarter of 2017.

Notably, the company already provides various technologies such as digital instrument clusters, navigation, advanced driver-assistance systems and infotainment under its partnerships with several automakers including Honda (HMC - Free Report) , Tesla Motors (TSLA - Free Report) , Audi, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

NVIDIA claims that a single Xavier AI processor will be powerful enough to replace its current Drive PX 2 platform, which is configured with dual mobile SoCs and dual discrete GPUs, with lesser power consumption.

Apart from introducing the Xavier AI processor at the GTC, NVIDIA has entered into a partnership with TomTom, a Dutch mapping and navigation group, to develop AI to create a cloud-to-car mapping system for self-driving cars.

As per the agreement, NVIDIA will combine TomTom's extensive HD map coverage with its Drive PX 2 computing platform. NVIDIA believes this combination “accelerates support for real-time in-vehicle localization and mapping for driving on the highway.”

Entry in Autonomous Vehicles Driving Growth

NVIDIA’s foray into the autonomous vehicles and other automotive electronics space has been boosting its performance. It should be noted that in the last reported quarterly results, the company witnessed a 68% year-over-year jump in automotive segment revenues mainly driven by premium infotainment and digital cockpit features in mainstream cars.

Its plan to unveil new technology for self-driving cars is also encouraging. But the evolution of smart cars that can "see" for us, alert us in case of danger and even apply brakes when we're not paying attention has just begun.

The company’s Drive PX 2 computer chip for self-driving cars is considered to be as powerful as 150 MacBook Pros, and has the capacity to power 12 video camera inputs and sensor fusion. The chip, according to NVIDIA, can run about 24 trillion deep learning operations per second, thereby enabling driverless cars to determine the next move in a fraction of a second.

While consumers are already using cameras to stay in a single lane, which has greatly reduced accidents, this is the not the sole reason behind the development of this technology. It's in fact the statistics that show a dramatic rise in distracted driving and how new auto technology like Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) can prevent tens of thousands of rear-end collisions every year, saving countless lives. NVIDIA is thus trying to revolutionize technology to make cars a safer means of getting around.

Bottom Line

NVIDIA continues to be the world’s biggest graphic processing hardware provider for PCs since the past several decades. The company’s latest announcements indicate that it intends to be the largest player in the self-driving and machine learning arena too.

Furthermore, by expanding its business avenues, the company will be able to reduce its dependency on the PC industry, which is currently declining.

Currently, NVIDIA sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Another stock worth considering in the broader technology sector is Ambarella Inc. (AMBA - Free Report) , sporting the same Zacks Rank as NVIDIA. The stock has witnessed upward estimate revisions in the last 30 days and has a long term EPS growth rate of 14.7%.

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