Self-Driving Car Demo Like No Other: The Road to an Unforgettable Cup of Coffee

by Danny Shapiro

CES has featured self-driving car demos before but nothing like NVIDIA’s own self-driving car, affectionately known as BB8.

The nearly 3,000 attendees at our opening keynote got a peek at BB8, which is outfitted with our DRIVE PX 2 AI self-driving computer, in a rocking video.

The video captures a trip to Starbucks like no other. The car understands and interacts with the driver in natural spoken language as it negotiates stop lights, stop signs and intersections, confidently making its way to the freeway before passing control back to the driver when requested.

A live BB8 self-driving demo is taking place during the four days of CES 2017 — in front of the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center – but this time, with no one behind the wheel, just passengers in the backseat.

In the demo, BB8 follows a winding course carved out from truckloads of dirt, a backyard-size patch of artificial lawn and various landscaping material, simulating a variety of road surfaces and obstacles. Parts have lane markings, parts don’t, just like roads we drive on every day. There’s also a huge mobile road block with flashing arrows – when we move it onto the track and BB8 naturally takes the detour.

The demo showcases the power of AI, or more specifically deep learning. The cars we’re showing have been outfitted with our DRIVE PX 2 AI self-driving computer. With our DriveWorks software, and specifically running a deep neural network called PilotNet — developed over the last 18 months — the car is able to safely drive itself in this complex and dynamic environment.