Toyota's Research Institute-Advanced Development (TRI-AD) will be the first customer for Drive Constellation. The car manufacturer is already using the NVIDIA Drive AGX Xavier computer (below) to run real-time self-driving car tests, and will help NVIDIA develop its simulation and self-propelled technology.
The system consists of two different cloud-powered solutions. The server "Constellation Simulator" uses NVIDIA's GPUs to run software called Drive Sim that generates a realistic virtual world to be fed into a virtual car's sensors. The second server, "Constellation Vehicle", powered by Drive AGX in the car, then processes the simulated sensor data.
"The driving decision of the Constellation vehicle is fed back to the Constellation Simulator, with the aim of realizing bit-accurate, timing-accurate hardware-in-loop testing," said NVIDIA. The goal is, of course, to help Toyota and other manufacturers develop and market self-driving cars that will work safely in the real world.
To help with this process, NVIDIA also revealed an open platform that works with any driver software called "Security Strength" (SFF). It uses sensor data to predict what will happen on the roads and take action to protect the vehicle and other users. "The SFF framework ensures that these actions will never create, escalate or contribute to an uncertain situation, and include actions necessary to reduce potential danger," NVIDIA said.
Instead of trying to model very complex real-life scenarios, the SFF follows a "core collision failure principle as opposed to a large set of rules and expectations." NVIDIA said. It takes into account both brake and steering constraints and has been tested in highways and urban simulations that would be too dangerous for the real world. "The SFF is mathematically designed so that autonomous vehicles equipped with SFF, like magnets that reject each other, stay out of harm and do not contribute to unsafe situations," said NVIDIA Autonomous Driving, VP David Nister.
NVIDIA first announced Drive Constellation a year ago, immediately after a self-propelled Uber vehicle – equipped with NVIDIA technology – hit and killed a pedestrian. After the accident, CEO Jensen Huang said that the company would surround itself with what is "probably the most difficult computer technology we have ever encountered."
Drive Constellation will be available to any developer, said CEO Jensen Huang at this year's NVIDIA's GTC developer conference. Self-propelled technology companies will be able to send their own simulation scenarios, and then see the results on their own computers. "This large-scale validation capacity is comparable to running an entire fleet of test vehicles, but it is capable of achieving many years of testing in a fraction of the time," the company said in a statement.