It’s a complex process to make self-driving cars work – from the software that guides them gently and accident-free through traffic to the hardware involved that processes millions of bits of data every second. So it comes as a surprise to learn that Nvidia, maker of graphics cards and hardware for self-driving cars, used a video game during testing to create its self-driving simulations.
Speaking at DICE 2016 on a panel titled “Automobiles, the Next Mobile Platform,” Nvidia’s automotive chief Sahin Kirtavit explained, “We’ve got the [Gran Turismo] engine two years ago to start our simulation efforts and we came to the conclusion that we needed more high-fidelity graphics. The game engines have a lot that the simulator needs. I think game engines are extremely close to perfect simulators.”
The Gran Turismo series has been widely praised for the quality of its simulation, with developer Polyphony Digital going to great lengths to recreate cars and tracks down to the finest detail. In fact, it’s so good that racers in Nissan’s GT Academy – hire those people who are really good at it Gran Turismo and put them in real race cars – they weren’t allowed to compete in the British GT Championship, because they were at fast.
Nvidia’s Kirtavit went on to explain that he believes self-driving cars will be hitting the roads “in the next few years,” no doubt hoping they’ll all be powered by the company’s Drive PX 2 computer, which is currently being tested with cars . maker Volvo.
“I think you’re going to see truly self-driving cars — I’m not talking about cars that drive for just 30 seconds and then hand control back to you — truly self-driving cars that will hit the road in the next few years.” said Kirtavit. “And we’re super excited that once the car drives itself, you start playing games.” [That’s some pro double-dipping, Nvidia! -Ed]
While Kirtavit may be a little optimistic about the future of self-driving cars, there are signs that they could hit the road sooner rather than later. Earlier this month, the US government removed the need for Google to have a human driver in the car, making the driving software itself the legal driver of the vehicle. Not only does that mean none of the people in the car need a driver’s license, but frivolities like the steering wheel and pedals can be removed.
The extra space can then be used for comforts such as larger passenger seats, more cup holders and yes, even an entertainment system for playing games such as Gran Turimso. Whether we’ll all be able to deal with the irony of playing racing games while being driven around remains to be seen.