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This article was published on September 29, 2016

Nvidia’s AI learns to drive by watching humans

Nvidia’s AI learns to drive by watching humans
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

While Google and Tesla duke it out for autonomous driving supremacy — and Apple waits in the wings — Nvidia might actually offer the best solution. Unlike the traditional approach to autonomous driving, Nividia is teaching its card to drive the same way driving instructors taught each of us.

Rather than relying on programming alone, Nvidia’s AI is fully capable of learning just by watching human drivers — for better or worse. Dubbed ‘BB-8’ (Disney is not going to be happy about that naming choice), the program doesn’t share the challenges faced by current self-driving technology. Blind corners, hard turns, construction zones and traveling on uncharted roads offers a fair bit of difficulty for Google’s autonomous driver.

Tesla, less so, but it isn’t a fully autonomous solution, either.

BB-8, on the other hand simply learns what humans would do in a specific situation while watching them drive. The AI can drive on any type of road, even those it hasn’t seen previously. Nvidia showed this off by testing the California-trained car on roads in New Jersey.

It performed flawlessly.

Perhaps even cooler, BB-8 realizes it doesn’t have to stay on the road in all circumstances. In the demonstration, traffic cones routed the car off the road and into the grass, and the AI instinctively knew that this was okay.

Nvidia is still relatively early in the process, and at this point doesn’t plan on making its own car. More likely, the technology will be licensed to other automakers as autonomous cars begin to roll out in the near future.

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