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Nvidia suspends self-driving car tests after fatal incidents for Uber and Tesla

SAN JOSE, USA As the NVIDIA keynote was taking place in San Jose yesterday, an alarming revelation was sending the company’s shares spiraling in the wrong direction: NVIDIA had joined Uber in suspending its autonomous vehicle tests in the wake of the latter’s fatal crash in Arizona last week.

NVIDIA’s shares took their worst tumble since 2011 and, while the company doesn’t believe there is an issue with its own technology, it has decided to take no chances, with CEO Jensen Huang telling journalists today that the decision was “good engineering practice” in the wake of an unexpected error.

A statement from the company emphasises: “Ultimately AVs [autonomous vehicles] will be far safer than human drivers, so this important work needs to continue. We are temporarily suspending the testing of our self-driving cars on public roads to learn from the Uber incident.”

He added that cars with sensors, but without automation, would continue collecting sensor data to feed to neural networks and generally keep things moving.

It will also improve the experience of the ‘Holodeck’ of virtualised driving simulations.

Uber isn’t the only new generation car that is in the aftermath of an accident. Last Friday a Tesla Model X was involved in a fatal crash on Highway 101 at Palo Alto.

Investigators are still trying to work out if the Tesla Autopilot semi-self-driving system was activated at the time. All Teslas are capable of self-drive but at present, regular users need to stay alert, just in case. 

Tesla describes Autopilot thusly: “All Tesla vehicles produced in our factory, including the Model 3, have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver.”

It is understood that a part of the central reservation divider was missing at the point of the crash and this could have exacerbated it.

Firefighters were also hampered in making the car safe as the temperatures inside the electric car’s battery far exceeded that which can be safely doused with water. µ



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