Danny Shapiro is responsible for marketing at NVIDIA’s Automotive Business Unit, delivering automotive infotainment, digital instrument and driver assistance system solutions through advances being made in visual computing and graphics processing. Prior to NVIDIA, Danny was the Director of Business Development at Advanced Micro Devices. Danny holds an MBA in Marketing from University of California, Berkeley, Walter A. Haas School of Business, and a Bachelor of Science in both Electronic Engineering and Computer Science from Princeton University.
NVIDIA is a highly progressive company that invented the GPU and pioneered the technology we know as visual computing, which is the art and science of computer graphics. The video game, movie production, scientific research, medical and product design industries have utilized NVIDIA technologies to further their development. Automotive technology development is a recent addition to this list and NVIDIA is fast becoming a major force in bringing visual computing, augmented reality and machine learning to the car.
“The connected car has many aspects to consider: connection to the driver, connection to the onboard HMI and connection to the environment outside the vehicle,” Danny said. “All forms of connectivity generate massive amounts of data that would be meaningless without sophisticated processing inside and outside of the vehicle. Along with sensor and software development, I believe we can fast track the availability of a truly computerized car with unique capabilities.”
The challenge for automakers is not just the development and integration of these technologies but how to implement them correctly so that their vehicles will be able to keep pace with the speed of tech companies and developers. NVIDIA recognizes this challenge and, according to Danny, “is building a high performance hardware and software platform with the flexibility to adapt to future needs. Fast touchscreen response, rich photorealistic graphics, customizable and personalized information, plus the ability to update the system during the life of the vehicle.”
The NVIDIA Tegra Visual Computing Module (VCM) allows automakers to integrate the most current and advanced processors into their on-board electronics systems for faster development cycles as newer hardware becomes available. This approach greatly narrows the technology gap that has existed between the 12-month consumer electronics development cycle and the nearly five-year cycle utilized by many automakers.
NVIDIA also participates with the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA) with Harman, Delphi, Google, and many other technology companies along with 28 automakers from around the world. “This collaborative effort creates better and safer driving experiences,” said Danny. “We don’t view Google or Apple as competitors, but as partners; we work closely in partnership with both companies. Our intention is to deliver the best experience for our customers and provide seamless integration to all connected technologies brought into the car.”
At the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, NVIDIA released its latest Tegra K1 mobile processor which is based on the same technology that goes into the worlds fastest and most energy efficient supercomputers. “This latest Tegra mobile processor has 192 graphics cores, each a tiny engine dedicated to a particular part of an image,” Danny explained. “Working in unison, they can render complex, high-resolution images, or stitch together video from multiple cameras into a single seamless image in real time. The result can be a driver vision assistance system that monitors a complete, 360-degree view of what’s going on around the car, eliminating blind spots.”
NVIDIA technology will also play a role in increasing vehicle fuel economy and the trend toward electric vehicles. “These are also the most energy-efficient super computers powered by Kepler architecture and we’ve brought that to our Tegra mobile processors,” Danny added. “The Tegra K1 provides 10 times the computing power of previous mobile processors without consuming additional energy.”
What capabilities could this processor deliver in the near future? “I think that we’re going to see a combination of new things in the near term: better on-board speech recognition without having to go to the cloud, facial recognition, image recognition, gaze tracking and driver monitoring,” Danny said. “We will also see the integration of driver assistance within the instrument cluster and head-up displays (HUD). Our technology is able to analyze what’s going on around the car through computer vision and sensor fusion, then display appropriate visuals whether they’re on a cluster, HUD or a center screen. Autonomous driving will be made entirely possible in our lifetime using the capabilities of NVIDIA processors that are currently in development.”
BMW recently brought its electric-hybrid i8 to market, and the on-board visual computing power is made possible by NVIDIA technology.“Our chip provides the visual computing power behind BMW’s professional navigation system, which comes standard on the i8,” Danny noted. “Its infotainment and navigation system lets drivers flip between 2D and 3D map views. It also lets drivers access everything from vehicle information to personal media, contacts, phone services, and even a concierge,” Danny explained.
“We now have achieved the milestone of having six million vehicles on the road today with on-board NVIDIA technologies. From the 17-inch touchscreen in the Tesla Model S to the brand new Virtual Cockpit in the Audi TT, NVIDIA is driving innovation.”