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Nvidia suspends tests of vehicles using its self-driving platform

March 29, 2018

When tech is in the driver’s seat, the buck stops there as well, according to Dan Gallagher in The Wall Street Journal. A case in point is Nvidia, whose stock has lost 12% since the fatal accident involving an Uber self-driving car, reports Gallagher. Ironically, “Nvidia’s technology wasn’t blamed for the incident, and CEO Jensen Huang said late Wednesday that Uber doesn’t even use the company’s self-driving car system,” he writes. Nevertheless, Nvidia has suspended tests of vehicles using its platform.

“Nvidia still generates most of its sales from graphics chips used in videogames,” writes Gallagher. “But the company’s significant advancements with artificial intelligence has opened the door to new and expansive opportunities.” Nvidia’s sales for AI and datacenter applications doubled in the fiscal year that ended in January and are expected to grow more than 60% this year to about $3.2 billion, Gallagher reports, adding that the company is projected to get 5% of its revenues from the automotive sector over the next two years, with much of that coming from infotainment, not autonomous driving.

“But while that may limit the actual business risk, Nvidia’s name is now closely synced to the development of autonomous cars,” he writes. “That means mishaps involving those types of cars will likely weigh on the company’s shares.”

Nvidia will also face competition from well-funded startups developing chips for deep learning, as I reported in January. In related news, Vivienne Sze, an associate professor at MIT in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department, is wrapping up a two-day course on the topic in Mountain View this week. The course will be repeated in Cambridge this summer. See my blog post for more.

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