Cars Among the Stars at GTC

by Danny Shapiro

The GPU Technology Conference featured more than a dozen breakout sessions focused on how the auto industry is using technology to provide whole new capabilities for drivers and their passengers.

Here’s a sampling of talks given by some of the industry’s most creative technologists:

3D Workstation Virtualization for Auto Design

In 2006, PSA Peugot Citroen, Europe’s second-largest car manufacturer, came up with the idea to build a 3D virtualized platform for their computer-aided design(CAD) designers. Their goal was to develop   software that allowed them to create 3D solutions on any connected device.

By 2011, the French auotomaker partnered with HP, Citrix, NVIDIA and other IT innovators to create this solution, which would connect them all through a single remote solution and thus make global projects that much easier to accomplish.

Seven years from the project’s beginning, Alain Gonzalez, IT Architect at PSA Peugeot Citroen, told his audience at GTC that the 3D solution’s prototype will be available in the months ahead.

Creating Mobile Apps for the Auto Market

You’d think the mobile industry’s access to jillions of apps for smartphones and tablets would make it easy for them to be integrated into a vehicle. But it’s not that simple. Your smartphone’s Twitter app, for example, can’t be the same as your car’s due to distracted driving laws.

So, it’s necessary for app developers to learn an entirely new platform for a vehicle’s infotainment system.

The good news, according to Kerry Johnson, auto product manager at QNX Software Systems, is that vehicle apps are a huge opportunity for developers who invest in the right tools and technologies, specifically for voice interface and recognition.

GPU Requirements for Automotive Infotainment

The growth potential for infotainment systems among OEMs was a hot topic at GTC.

Ron Szabo, engineering director at Delphi Automotive Systems, discussed GPU requirements for infotainment systems that will impact the way Tier 1s and OEMs look to improve the driver’s overall experience. He focused on four key areas:

  • Traditional features, like advanced driver assistance systems
  • Impact of mobile devices and connectivity
  • Compounding effect of off-board services and cloud connectivity
  • Development headroom to eventually eliminate optimization.

Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection

Enormous effort is being put into technology that makes collision-detection features possible

Starting off with the analysis of motion across several frames, foreground objects are identified as pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists or other objects on the road surface, said Vladimir Glavtchev, mobile computer vision engineer at NVIDIA.

From there, the entire process is optimized to minimize the computation resources needed for detection and classification.

What makes this technology exciting for OEMs and suppliers is that the entire process can be performed on a mobile-grade GPU system with a modest host processor. What makes it exciting for drivers is its world-class detection.

Tegra in Automotive Apps

Infotainment systems are a key focus in today’s tech-driven auto industry, helping to keep pace with consumer expectations set by their experiences with mobile device technology.

As Stefaan Sonck Thiebaut, GM at OpenSynergy, put it during his presentation, the key to success for OEMs will be the virtual integration of all technology features and apps (safety, entertainment, etc.) into a single processor.

Beyond the fact that integrating operating systems into one processor will help OEMs from a cost perspective, Sonck Thiebaut believes that OEMs will find it easier to integrate new features using open- source solutions like Linux and Android. As a solution to these requirements, OpenSynergy recommends OEMs explore software architecture that uses virtualization with a micro-kernel, which is already implemented and available on NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 Processor.