Next week is NVIDIA’s big annual GPU Technology Conference (GTC), and every year there are new amazing things to see that the firm is creating. I look forward to this show every year because it tends to showcase some of the most impressive technologies we’ll see emerge later in the decade. NVIDIA is a graphics-oriented company which means the presentations have a lot going on visually and, as a result, they tend to be much more engaging. I was never a fan of static PowerPoint presentations when I attended events in person, and I hate them. Now events are remote, and thankfully NVIDIA generally has far more exciting videos and live demos.
Here are three things I’m looking forward to at GTC21 this year.
The State Of Autonomous Cars
NVIDIA has been on the cutting edge of Autonomous Cars for nearly two decades now. And each year, we see advancement after advancement, with the latest years showing we are closing in on the promise of a workable Level 4 system. Current technologies are considered Level 2+, more like advanced cruise control, but NVIDIA has been showing prototype Level 4 systems for some time. My hope is we’ll see a prototype Level 5 system, but it is more likely we’ll see a viable level for systems instead. I’m hoping to be positively surprised.
As a refresher, Level One is adaptive cruise control (maintaining distance, automatic braking, etc.), Level 2 is intelligent cruise control where you can take your hands off the wheel for around 20 seconds, Level 3 is full hands-off but only on Freeways. Level 4 is hands-off on freeways and in cities. And Level 5, you don’t even need a steering wheel.
New Cool Robots
The technology that NVIDIA developed for Autonomous cars is also viable for robots. They have in the past showed autonomous drones, robotic tractors, robotic delivery vehicles, and autonomous factory robots. I’m looking for prototype home care robots this year and more of the former class of robots in production form. We are ready for the next evolution in package delivery with companies like UPS announcing electric vertical takeoff delivery aircraft that are also expected to eventually, or initially, be autonomous.
I’m looking to see advancements in ocean-going autonomous robots, possible advances in military drones, and at least one thing that is wild and unanticipated in the robot space (not sex dolls, though, as that market has become exceedingly creepy).
AI is also NVIDIA’s thing, but much of their work has been done with image recognition. The Pandemic has made us all aware that many of us need someone or something to talk with, and there have been some exciting advancements in this area. I’ve played around with Alexa conversations, and while that beta product has made progress, its limitations have also been problematic.
Granted, a lot of this technology is focused on IVR (Interactive Voice Response) technology which almost entirely seems focused on getting me to buy a new car warranty at the moment. But the creation of a realistic conversation partner could help people who are isolated due to the Pandemic or are just generally lonely. Advances in this technology are already showing promise for AI Authors who could take over a lot of the boring writing that has to get done. The next generation digital assistant could also be a digital companion, a game-changer for many of us, and another foundational element to creating Digital Immortality.
Things are changing very rapidly, and increasingly we desperately need a heads up for what is coming so we can be prepared, rather than blindsided, by those coming changes. One of the best events to attend to see what is coming is NVIDIA’s GTC, where they showcase technologies like autonomous vehicles, robotics, conversational AI. Next week, those of us attending the show will see the future. Hopefully, you’ll find the time to experience it with us. Oh, and there is one more thing I’m looking forward to seeing. Some time back, NVIDIA announced NVIDIA Omniverse as the future of Collaboration and Simulation. Think of it as Star Trek Holodeck light evolving into full Holodeck. I’m also really looking forward to seeing the progress they have made on that fascinating initiative.