The semiconductor company Nvidia has made an impressive success story in recent years. The company from California’s Silicon Valley produces graphics cards that were once known especially for making realistic video games like “Call of Duty” realistic. But because these processors, unlike ordinary microchips, are capable of performing computational steps in parallel and thus many different tasks simultaneously, they are also well suited for future-oriented applications around artificial intelligence, for example autonomous driving.
“Learning from the Uber accident”
The fall in prices is likely to have something to do with the fact that Nvidia had caused just bad news in his new parade area of autonomous driving. The company announced that it would temporarily suspend its fleet of self-driving cars. It responded to the accident with a robotic car powered by the Uber U-turn, which seized and killed a pedestrian just over a week ago in the state of Arizona, Arizona. Nvidia said it would suspend its tests on public roads “to learn about the Uber accident”. The accident recalled how difficult autonomous driving technology was and that one had to exercise “extreme caution” in this area. Nvidia has tested its self-driving cars so far in the US states of California and New Jersey, as well as in Germany and Japan.
Uber is one of Nvidia’s partners. Only in January at the CES electronics trade show in Las Vegas, the two companies had publicly announced their cooperation. At the time, Nvidia said its technology was used in self-driving cars and trucks from Uber, enabling them to “see the world, predict what happens next and quickly choose the best course of action, even in complex environments.”
It is unclear whether Nvidia technology was installed in the Arizona accident car, but it was precisely these things that seemed to haunt the tragic event. The investigation is still underway, but in a police video showing the accident, it can be seen that the woman suddenly appears in the dark, but the Uber vehicle seems to show no reaction. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey found this video so “disturbing and alarming” that he withdrew from the test for robot cars in his state.
Uber had voluntarily taken his self-driving cars off the road after the accident, not just in Arizona, but also in his other test cities, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto. Also the Japanese automaker Toyota announced to interrupt its tests with such vehicles for the time being. This would give his drivers the opportunity to “emotionally process this tragedy”. The city of Boston temporarily prohibited further tests with robotic cars on its streets.
The consumer protection group “Consumer Watchdog” even called for a “national moratorium” for all tests with autonomous vehicles on public roads, unless all the details of the accident had been publicized and analyzed by experts. The organization criticized especially the state of Arizona, which was previously known for its relatively little regulation of self-driving cars and not least has become a popular test area for companies such as Uber or Waymo. Arizona is the “Wild West” in tests of robot cars. “If there is no sheriff in the city, people will die.”