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Toyota selects Nvidia to power future fleet of self-driving cars

Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of Nvidia, announced today that Toyota selected his company's Drive PX autonomous driving platform to power self-driving cars.

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang announces Toyota partnership
Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang announces during a keynote address that Toyota will use Nvidia's self-driving car computer.
Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

Apple and Google showed a preference for using Toyota company vehicles when developing self-driving car technologies, but Toyota itself remained relatively quiet on the topic. The Japanese automaker's efforts gained more publicity today with the announcement that it would be using Nvidia's Drive PX platform for its own self-driving car research.

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang announced the partnership during his keynote speech at Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, noting that Toyota would be using the technology with the intent for production "in the next few years." That timing comes in line with other automakers intent on putting self-driving cars on the road in 2020 or 2021.

The Toyota-Nvidia partnership comes amid efforts around the globe to develop self-driving car technology, led not just by automakers, but also automotive equipment suppliers and technology companies. Self-driving cars promise to reduce or eliminate the tens of thousands of traffic fatalities that occur on US roads every year.

Earlier, Toyota announced its intent to deploy advanced driver assistance features in all of its models. For example, the latest Corolla, near the bottom of the Toyota lineup, comes standard with collision prevention technologies, which can automatically hit the brakes if a pedestrian walks in front of the car.

Nvidia introduced the latest version of its Drive PX self-driving car computer, using its new Xavier system, during CES this year. The company has been developing technologies to enable self-driving based on its GPU (graphics processing unit) technology, which can quickly analyze sensor input and use deep learning to identify objects. Nvidia has already been working with Audi to advance the technology.

However, Nvidia faces a growing range of competitors. Last week, Intel opened the doors on its Autonomous Driving Garage, a facility in San Jose where it intends to develop an end-to-end self-driving system. Auto equipment supplier Delphi recently announced it would focus most of its resources on developing its self-driving technology.

As Huang pointed out, Toyota is the ninth largest company in the world, and the partnership represents a big win for Toyota.