In partnering with technology company Nvidia—the company that taught a car how to drive from scratch—Mercedes-Benz announced at the Consumer Electronics Show on Friday that artificial intelligence will be the future of its vehicles. Mercedes also said it will have AI technology on the market in a year.
Nvidia is widely known for its technology in the gaming industry, but has, in recent years, begun working on cars as well. The company shared video of the AI technology it developed to teach a car how to drive itself in September, with the car’s learning process beginning with cones in a parking lot and quickly moving to roads—just like, you know, the typical teenage human would.
Mercedes announced its partnership with Nvidia on Friday, but the companies have actually been working together for three years. In the announcement, Sajjad Khan, Mercedes-Benz’s vice president of digital vehicle and mobility, said the two companies will have an AI product on the market within a year. That likely won’t be AI with full-on vehicle autonomy, but those days sound like they’re on their way.
The folks at Mercedes were adamant in their views of AI being the future of computing technology, and it seems like they’re not alone. The Verge reports that Audi announced a partnership with Nvidia on Thursday with plans to bring a self-driving AI car onto the market by 2020, and the companies brought an experimental Audi Q7 SUV to CES that apparently learned to drive itself in four days using AI technology.
Of course, the talk about self-driving cars being a few years out isn’t new. The difference here is the AI technology, which Nvidia seems to have mastered—or, at least, convinced major manufacturers that it has mastered.
Most cars with some level of autonomy in their hardware and software rely on things like LiDAR technology, 3D mapping and algorithms to navigate streets on their own, but Nvidia’s technology takes autonomy to the new, creepy level of a car simply observing a driver to learn how things work. If this sounds like the scary, sci-fi future you’re been watching movies on for decades, it is.
Of course, it isn’t scary from a business standpoint. Nvidia’s AI offers a lot to manufacturers if its technology proves to be an autonomy level appropriate for the consumer market. Automakers can focus on their cars and use Nvidia add-ons if they so desire, while not having the headache of making their own autonomous technology flawless enough to be approved by regulators.
So, yeah, sure, this Nvidia deal has some major upsides. Audi and Mercedes-Benz have realized that. But at the end of the day, these cars are still actively learning how to do things by observing people.
The future is here. The robots will kill us all.