Audi Features NVIDIA in Keynote Kicking Off CES

by Noah Kravitz

German automaker Audi, a longtime NVIDIA partner, brought a history lesson to the swank Chelsea Theater at The Cosmopolitan during its CES 2014 keynote Monday night.

A capacity crowd of 3,000 had to wait through long lines but was rewarded by flutes of champagne, passed hors d’oeuvres and a look into the past, present and future of motoring. A future made possible in large part by NVIDIA automotive technology.

Host Kunal Nayyar from the TV show, The Big Bang Theory, set the stage for the majestic vehicle of yesteryear that emerged from stage left. The 1930s vintage, chauffeur-driven convertible ferried Audi Chairman Rupert Stadler onstage. From there, he brought us through the past and into the present and future of driving.

A driverless, sleek grey Audi A7 fastback with matte gray rims soon emerged from backstage. No ordinary A7, this was a self-piloted vehicle dependent on some 2.5 billion inputs per second to calculate its every move. The A7 is pretty sexy. Arguably sexier? The metallic blue Audi S3 that then brought NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang and AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega onstage.

“If we’re in the middle of the mobile computing revolution,” Jen-Hsun said, “then the car is the most advanced mobile computer we have.”

Jen-Hsun then produced the modular infotainment board (MIB) module that powers Audio’s infotainment systems from his pocket and went on to explain how the new Tegra K1 super chip will power these devices – and the next chapter of Audi and NVIDIA’s engineering partnership. “I can’t wait to see what Audi does with Tegra K1,” he said.

Actor Kuna Nayyar, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang and AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega.
Actor Kuna Nayyar, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang and AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega.

Stadler next talked about Audi’s infotainment system, now available across its full family of cars. Audi partnered with Google to make the infotainment system more familiar and intuitive to drivers. But, of course, its Tegra processors makes the whole thing hum as sweetly as a supercharged V6.

Speaking of sweet, an uber-cool laser-based dance performance set the stage for the star of the show: the Audi Sport Quattro Laserlight Concept. “In one body you have a muscle car and a very efficient hybrid,” said Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, head of Audi’s research and development team.

This gleaming red muscle car gets the eMPG equivalent of 90 miles to the gallon while putting out a whopping 700 horsepower. The concept car also features a piloted mode powered by, well, a ton of technological achievements. Laserlight also takes Audi’s new matrix LED headlamp technology one step beyond by replacing LEDs with lasers able to shine light the length of five football fields.