NVIDIA DRIVE Car Computer Drawing Throngs at CES

by Brian Caulfield

There are car guys and there are car guys. People who enjoy cars, and people who build cars.

And if you step inside our booth at the 2017 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, you’ll find a lot of people who know more than a few things about building cars, trucks and other kind of transportation.

Of course, it’s now an open secret that CES has become the world’s foremost automotive technology show, with the show’s North Hall packed with carmakers — and the companies supplying them with technology.

Maybe that’s why it was almost impossible to claw your way past the scores of people gawking at a glass case containing our NVIDIA DRIVE PX AI car computer to get a glimpse at the big screen displays showing our autonomous car, BB8, in action, and a demo of AI Co-Pilot, which promises to help your car understand you as well as it does the world around it.

And they’re not just impressed. They’re curious — grilling anyone from NVIDIA who steps up to them to learn what they think.

They come from automakers and automotive startups, insurance companies and tier 1 automotive suppliers. They’re eager to learn more, even if they’re not always eager to see their names in print.

And more than a few of these car guys will admit, privately, that they’re ready to let go of the wheel. “I’m ready,” an engineer at a well-known British luxury carmaker admitted with a smile and a nod when asked if he wants a car that drives itself.

“The next generation of vehicle safety is going to be built on top of this technology,” said Michael Palmer, director of research at truck platooning system provider Peloton Technology, based in Mountain View, Calif., who’s about to evaluate our DRIVE PX 2 AI car computer, “It’s a no-brainer — so to speak.”

The real surprise, though: even these hardest of hard-core car people are ready for an autonomous vehicle. “That’s a trick question,” one engineer said, when asked if he’d ever buy a self-driving car. “I live in Los Angeles — I love to drive, at 2 o’clock in the morning.”

The rest of the time? He’s ready to leave driving through the traffic-choked metropolis to us.