NVIDIA Advances Self-Driving Effort With TuSimple Investment

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NVIDIA has taken part in a collective venture investment effort meant to finance Chinese artificial intelligence and computer vision startup, TuSimple, with more than $20 million. The graphics processing units manufacturer announced on Tuesday that it made the investment through its GPU Ventures program, advancing the company’s autonomous driving initiative marked by NVIDIA’s continued effort to help further the development of self-driving vehicles. Last December, the Santa Clara, California-based technology firm started testing a driverless car in California.

The latest investment is aimed at developing a platform that will introduce disruptive technologies to the freight industry by incorporating NVIDIA’s technology into TuSimple’s computer vision and AI portfolio, according to Xiaodi Hou, Chief Technology Officer at TuSimple. The investment effort is led by Sina, a social networking site based in Beijing, China. Apart from its investment in TuSimple, NVIDIA also manufactures GPUs for TuSimple’s fleet of trucks, which the Chinese startup used for a 200-mile test drive conducted from San Diego to Arizona last June. Besides TuSimple, automobile companies have also employed NVIDIA’s GPUs on their vehicles. This July, Audi announced that it would integrate NVIDIA technologies into its new A8 model. Toyota is also in an ongoing partnership with NVIDIA, as the Japanese car maker plans to use the NVIDIA Drive PX in its future autonomous cars. Toyota will use a customized variant of NVIDIA’s Xavier supercomputer automobile chip to run software on those vehicles.

It’s not only autonomous driving that NVIDIA is currently betting on, as the company recently forged a partnership with Volkswagen in a bid to boost its machine learning technology and eventually integrate an improved AI solution into the German automaker’s fleet of vehicles. The partnership also covers an AI incubator program within Volkswagen’s Data Lab, where startup businesses will be qualified to develop their proprietary machine learning solutions. NVIDIA and Volkswagen agreed to provide financing and other form of support including coaching and unlimited access to facility resources to qualified start-ups. NVIDIA and Baidu also recently formed a collaborative effort to combine AI-powered technologies into cloud data centers and self-driving cars. An update on NVIDIA’s new investment in TuSimple is likely to follow over the short term.