Jonathan Cohen, previously Nvidia's director of deep learning software, has recently joined Apple, according to an update on his LinkedIn page. The move could be part of Apple's growing ambitions in the development of autonomous cars, observers speculate.
Nvidia is best known for its graphics processing units (GPUs), used widely in gaming. But its research in high-performance computing and deep learning has also made its products important to the development of self-driving vehicles.
Cohen joined Nvidia in 2008 after several years working with computer-generated image technologies for the movie industry. In 2007, his team won an Academy Award for technical achievement for its work in fluid simulation, which lets filmmakers create realistic-looking animation of fluid systems such as gases and liquids. Cohen founded Nvidia's emerging applications group, which develops software for GPU computing for a wide variety of applications. Cohen's latest LinkedIn update only noted that he's working on software for Apple.
More than 50 Firms Using Drive PX
Like many other large tech companies, Apple and Nvidia have shown growing interest in developing autonomous vehicle technologies.
Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, Cohen described how Nvidia's Drive PX platform [pictured] uses -mounted video recordings and deep learning to enable a computer to "understand" the different types of vehicles and other objects encountered by a car on the road.
"GPUs are ideal for this," Nvidia's senior director of automotive Danny Shapiro said in a blog post earlier this year. "They can cut the time that it takes to train these neural networks to just days from a year or more. GPUs perform many calculations at once. That makes GPUs great for neural nets, which sort unstructured data like images. Once a system is 'trained,' that learning can be used in applications like self-driving cars."
Nvidia is currently working with more than 50 companies that are exploring the use of its Drive PX platform in the development of their self-driving car efforts. Those companies include Audi, BMW, Elon Musk's Tesla and Volkwagen.
Apple's 'Project Titan'
Apple is also reported to be among the many tech firms working on autonomous vehicle projects. In May, The Guardian obtained documents showing that Apple was looking into using a former U.S. Navy property near San Francisco as a testing area for self-driving cars. The 2,100-acre GoMentum Station features some 20 miles of paved roadways, and has also been used for autonomous vehicle tests by Mercedes-Benz and Honda, the newspaper reported.
Apple's self-driving car project, codename Project Titan, is said to have a delivery date goal of 2019. Over the past year or so, Apple has shown other signs indicating that it's aiming to grow its talent pool in the area of autonomous vehicles. Among the companies from which it has hired key personnel are Tesla, Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz, A123 Systems, a maker of electric car batteries and electric motorcycle startup Mission Motors.
Apple did not respond to our request for information about Cohen's new role at the company.
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