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Nvidia readying AI brain for fully autonomous cars

SoftBank affiliate to introduce upgraded development platform in 2018

PALO ALTO, U.S. -- American graphical chipmaker Nvidia will roll out in the latter half of next year a development platform for autonomous driving technology that could pave the way for vehicles with no need for human drivers.

The new platform, code-named Pegasus, serves as the brain of a self-driving vehicle. It consists of a computer equipped with graphics processors that uses artificial intelligence to process camera and radar data. Boasting 10 times the processing power of its predecessor, it can perform 320 trillion calculations per second, letting it more accurately identify obstacles such as vehicles and people.

The platform will help make possible "level five" self-driving vehicles devoid of steering wheels or other human controls, Nvidia said.

CEO Jensen Huang unveiled Pegasus on Tuesday at a developer conference in Europe. Nvidia, in which Japanese technology giant SoftBank Group reportedly holds a nearly 5% stake, has provided no details about pricing or shipment quantities.

The chipmaker said 225 companies, including major players such as Toyota Motor and Audi, are using its existing platform to develop autonomous driving technology, of which more than 25 are working on fully self-driving "robotaxis."

Nvidia made its name with high-performance graphics processors for video game hardware. It has recently expanded into the autonomous driving field, seeing it as another outlet for technology that can quickly crunch large amounts of data.

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