With Drive px 2, Nvidia just made the futures brains of self driving cars

This week at the consumer electronic show (CES), Nvidia released details on a supper computer that finally gives auto manufactures the processing power to truly understand the the road. The Nvidia PX 2 is a game changing graphics card that has been designed specifically deal with the massive amounts of data and computing power for self driving vehicles. Capable of processing over 2 trillion float point operations per second, Nvidia says, the Drive PX has the equivalent processing power of 150 Mac Book Pro computers. The Nvidia Drive PX produces enough heat wear liquid cooling has been implemented to keep the processor running at a useable temperature.

nvidia drive px cooling liquid ventilation self driving cars

Here is the Drive Px 2 with a stand alone radiator connected into the cooling lines

Driving is dangerous and claims countless lives every year. The biggest danger when driving in the modern day is human error. Human beings are unpredictable by nature and we don’t have infinite attention spans. Drive PX two takes away the human error from driving. With highly intelligible supercomputers guiding vehicles through streets, we can make transit faster, more efficient, and even safer for everyone. The push for self driving cars has never been as high as it is today with companies like Volvo and Tesla already producing vehicles with assisted driving features, and big data companies such as google putting millions into research and development of artificial intelligence for autonomous vehicles.

nvidia drive px 2 tesla volvo audi min volts wagon fiat bmw

Partner Automotive companies working with Nvidia

One of the biggest walls to conquer in the self driving car industry is, developing a system that is not only able to guide the car through everyday street conditions, but also develop a system that can understand not so common conditions such as debris in the road, emergency vehicles, city or school busses,  or other hazards to drivers. Because there are almost an infinite amount of hazards that could be on the road for driver, Nvidia and partners are developing a system that learns on his own. The learning process as of right now still takes a couple months of big data input into the system, but engineers are working out how to expedite the process.

While the thought of a self driving car is cool and all Im actually more interested in all of the other advancements that will come with systems like these. With intelligent cars that understand the world around them, the response rate for emergency vehicles becomes almost instantaneous. Because we have vehicles on the ground mapping out every Square inch of public roadways we also have detailed maps for aerial drones and other Aircraft to fly with pin point accuracy. Drone could possibly be used even more interesting tasks such as patrolling the streets for criminal activity.  We could live in an entirely connected system that builds maintains and looks after itself all the while bringing transportation into the 21st century. While there is still much work that needs to be done in the coming years I am confident that we will be seeing a lot more machines driving their squishy master around in the near future.

A Look Into the Discovery II: The Last Solid Built Land Rover

Land Rover Discovery ii

discovery ii light bars dust runners tube bumper 4x4 lifted ome old man emu

Dust Runners Discovery ii

The Land Rover brand is know around the world for their accomplishments in the off road adventure vehicle market. In recent years the company has almost entirely abandon their Focus on off-road capabilities to move towards a luxury land boat kind of play. The Land Rover Discovery was the last of the great adventure capable vehicles with sold axles front and rear, along with a heavy duty ladder frame construction.

The Discovery has to be one of the most understated off road worthy vehicles out there. This is partially because of how harmless they look in a stock configuration. While land rover did an amazing job covering up the brute like features of this SUV, I personally like these vehicles much more with out the van like front bumper that covers all the interesting drive line components. With the removal of the front bumper the discovery becomes an even better beast suitable for almost any climate and environment. 

Sporty Driving on and off road

While most solid axle vehicles drive like boats with bad attitudes, the discovery feels more like a 6400lbs go-kart that will go anywhere given the time. This is in part because of a few key features like the massive 3ft radius arm style geometry. The radius arms, coupled with a linear action watts link set up in the back, let the rover glide over terrain at respectable speeds. Along with a well designed stock suspension geometry, Land Rover was the first to integrate an active torsion/roll bar that almost eliminates body roll entirely. This not only gives the Land Rover its sport car like steering response, but also means that the torsion bars can be turned off at low speeds to allow more articulation when crawling the rock gardens. To give better performance from the suspension the Discovery was also one of the first SUVs to have air suspension fitted to the rear. While the air system made for a nice ride, the reliability factor goes out the window. Most Rover owners will end up switching to an after market spring and shock set up such as Old Man Emu sport shocks to eliminate the chances of the air ride going out.  

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 10.16.55 AM

 

After a day of adventure off road it’s always nice to know that the Land Rover will take me back home in comfort and luxury. With seating for up to 7, with the additional two jumper seats in the back, the discovery is surprisingly spacious for how small of a wheel base it has. For creature comforts there is dual climate control up front with heat and A/C in the back along with two nicely placed sun roofs for ventilation. All the extra windows really bring in the light from the surrounding environment and give a much more immersive feel when driving in scenic locations. For a car designed back in the 90’s the Discovery has quite a lot of electronic gismos that do too many things to even explain, but some of the most notable are the Four wheel ABS and TCS, heated seats, heated front and rear windshield, home link RF, intelligent electronic gear box, and many other fancy buttons play with as you prowl the lands. inside discovery ii trim radio brake shifter leather seats

 

Where Land Rover missed their mark

The land rover discovery has to be one of my favorite vehicles however there is still plenty of room for improvement. One of my biggest gripes with this vehicle is the engine. With a natural aspirated 4.0l with making a mere 188HP and 250 Ft/lbs, You won’t be going anywhere in a hurry. The later 4.6l gave the Discovery a little more push but not enough to really move this 6400lbs beast faster then lame donkey. What’s even more unfortunate is that all rover engines were plagued with a similar problem of overheating. The cooling systems on these trucks are very temperamental and without the proper upkeep don’t provide sufficient cooling. Once the land rover engine overheats there is no going back. The sleeves in the engine Will break apart from the block causing slipped sleeves syndrome or even more common the head gaskets Will be destroyed. Along with being painfully slow in a strait line the discovery suffers from a couple reliability issues with the drive line. One of the most common and dangerous of the drive line issues is the front drive shaft exploding. As the grease and bearings age in the unserviceable double cardan drive shaft it will eventual fail, hurling drive line shrapnel into just about everything underneath the front of the vehicle. This usually results in a massive hole in the transmission and thousands of dollars in repair bills. Most knowledgeable rover owners will either replace or upgrade the drive shaft to prevent the catastrophic failure.

The Dust Runners Discovery

We refer to the Dust Runners rover as The Panther because of its handling characteristics and stylings. The panther has been through some of the most trying conditions and I have to say, it’s held up pretty well over the years. Just like most peoples vehicles, it’s a work in progress and over the next year it will be going through many changes. Some time last year we took the rover up to Payson Arizona for a little fun in the mud and this video was the result of said adventure.