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Nvidia Tegra X1 turns cars into Kit from Knight Rider

Barry Collins
5 Jan 2015
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"We're leaving, buddy!" - Nvidia introduces auto-valet parking system for cars

Nvidia has used its CES keynote to show off a new mobile processor that will turn cars into the "most advanced computers in the world", according to the company's CEO. The new Nvidia Drive systems will control everything from in-car entertainment to driving functions, including a new "auto-valet" that will park the car automatically and return back to the driver when they are ready to leave, like Kit from Knight Rider.

Nvidia Drive is powered by the company's newly announced graphics processor, the Tegra X1. The 256-core chip is the first mobile processor to offer a teraflop of throughput, according to the company, and offers twice the performance of the Kepla chip that was announced at last year's CES.

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The chips will be available in the first half of this year and will be put to use inside Nvidia's in-car system. Dual Tegra X1 processors will process the data from 12 high-resolution cameras mounted the exterior of a car, allowing the Drive PX computer to take control of functions such as parking. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang showed a virtual demonstration of the system parking a car in a mock up of the parking lot at Nvidia's offices.

The demo showed a car navigating its way through a busy car park, manoeuvering itself into an empty space. "When you’re done with diner you say can come back to me… and it becomes an auto-valet," said Huang, who was clad in a Hasselhoff-like leather jacket. "That car meanders back out and gets back to the driver." Huang also explained how cockpit computer designers could use the Drive system to provide a top-down 360-degree view of the car to drivers, providing a real-time driving aid. 

The less ambitious Drive CX system will handle in-car entertainment and deliver "digital cockpits that mimic the look and feel of real materials, from aluminium to carbon fibre and even bamboo". The system will be capable of processing 16.6-megapixels' worth of images across multiple screens, allowing car designers to put smart displays in wing mirrors, rear-view mirrors and headrests, according to Huang. 

Consumers won't be able to go and buy these systems in Halfords - Nvidia is relying on car manufacturers choosing to adopt its technology, which means you won't be seeing this in road models anytime soon, not least because Nvidia doesn't appear to have signed up any car makers as yet.