Apple hires away Nvidia's director of deep learning software, suggests work on autonomous vehicle

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2015
Rumors of an autonomous Apple car were rekindled on Friday after a report revealed the company recently hired Jonathan Cohen, now former director of Nvidia's CUDA Libraries and Software Solutions machine learning program.




As reported by Re/code, Cohen's LinkedIn bio page was recently updated to reflect a change in employment from Nvidia to Apple. His new title at Apple simply reads "Software," but Cohen has ample experience in the development of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), or autonomous car solutions.

At Nvidia, Cohen was director of the chipmaker's Deep Learning Software program where he oversaw development of the CUDA Platform libraries and GPU-acceleration software technology under the company's Tesla business. Specific research subjects included bioinformatics and machine learning, according to Nvidia's website.

While Nvidia is known for consumer-targeted computer graphics cards, the firm has more recently applied its advanced graphics processing technology to automotive computer vision solutions. Current products include the Nvidia DRIVE PX, a Tegra X1-based GPU capable of handling massive amounts of visual data from onboard cameras, enhanced by "deep learning computer vision."
Conventional ADAS technology today can detect some objects, do basic classification, alert the driver, and in some cases, stop the vehicle. DRIVE PX takes this to the next level with the ability to differentiate an ambulance from a delivery truck or a parked car from one about to pull into traffic. The system can now inform the driver, not just get their attention with a warning. The car is not just sensing, but interpreting what is taking place around it--an essential capability for auto-piloted driving.
A video of Cohen explaining the DRIVE PX project was captured by RCR Wireless News earlier this year:





Cohen's arrival at Apple comes as rumors swirl over a secret car initiative dubbed "Project Titan." The Cupertino, Calif., tech giant is widely thought to be working on an electric vehicle that could see unveiling as soon as 2020, though the first iteration might not be self-driving. Still, taken in context with Apple's acquisition of machine learning startup Perceptio this summer, Cohen's hire suggests Titan is moving in that direction.

Apple is said to have ratcheted up development as of late, poaching talent from Elon Musk's Tesla, as well as established automakers like Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz. A report on Monday claimed Apple's aggressive hiring practices caused electric motorcycle manufacturer Mission Motors to fold up shop.

AppleInsider earlier this year revealed that Apple's automotive project was well underway at a secret facility in Sunnyvale, while future plans might include a production facility in San Jose.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 75
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member

    It's becoming real. Not sure how should I feel about Apple Car.

  • Reply 2 of 75
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    This could have nothing to do with Apple Car or everything. At this point we are jumping to conclusions. Machine learning skills could be needed for Siri or many other projects at Apple. I see no evidence that this hire is for anything specific.
  • Reply 3 of 75
    matrix07 wrote: »
    It's becoming real. Not sure how should I feel about Apple Car.

    You have about five years (at minimum) to mull it over.
  • Reply 4 of 75
    quinneyquinney Posts: 2,528member
    wizard69 wrote: »
    This could have nothing to do with Apple Car or everything. At this point we are jumping to conclusions. Machine learning skills could be needed for Siri or many other projects at Apple. I see no evidence that this hire is for anything specific.

    I'm going to say it's everything. This learning capability was part of what Tesla released with their Autopilot update a week ago. People on the Tesla forum are saying that the system has improved noticeably at recognizing freeway exits and lane markings, already.
  • Reply 5 of 75

    How is Nvidias biggest shill here (Relic) going to handle this news?

  • Reply 6 of 75
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post



    This could have nothing to do with Apple Car or everything. At this point we are jumping to conclusions. Machine learning skills could be needed for Siri or many other projects at Apple. I see no evidence that this hire is for anything specific.



    This guy's specialty was in Advanced Driver Assisted Systems and worked on the business side that was involved with Tesla. That's no coincidence.

  • Reply 7 of 75
    "Do you want to sell sugar pixels for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?"
  • Reply 8 of 75
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

    "Do you want to sell sugar pixels for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?"



    “Do you want to sell faulty GPUs and lies about vRAM for the rest of your life, or do you want to...”

     

    Actually, I don’t want that sort of failure in a car.

  • Reply 9 of 75
    How about " Great " ;)
  • Reply 10 of 75
    matrix07 wrote: »
    It's becoming real. Not sure how should I feel about Apple Car.

    How about " Great " ;)
  • Reply 11 of 75
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post





    You have about five years (at minimum) to mull it over.



    Ha ha. That's true. It's strange that my next car may likely be Google's, Apple's or Tesla rather than Audi or BMW. :O

  • Reply 12 of 75
    wizard69 wrote: »
    This could have nothing to do with Apple Car or everything. At this point we are jumping to conclusions. Machine learning skills could be needed for Siri or many other projects at Apple. I see no evidence that this hire is for anything specific.

    Apple has a long history of integrating technologies across multiple products and services with impressive synergy and efficiency, but it seems very hard for me to think there is 1) no intent by Apple to build a car, and 2) that this hire will be working on said car, even if they do adopt the technology for other services, like Siri, as you mentioned.
  • Reply 13 of 75
    calicali Posts: 3,494member
    If you see the video explanation above this is similar to what I've been saying, Apple will most likely NOT release an autonomous vehicle first but an electric car with tons of sensors and collect all this data back home for a future autonomous vehicle.
  • Reply 14 of 75
    Apple don't mess around.
    Yet all those "experts" saying Apple can't compete with the establishment. The old guard.
    And the trolls who think Apple is foolish to try because of their lack of experience.
  • Reply 15 of 75
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,355member

    This is great! The new Apple Car should be available about the time I pay off my other car.  So I can just start making more payments for new technology like I do with my iPhone. Yay!

  • Reply 16 of 75
    wizard69 wrote: »
    This could have nothing to do with Apple Car or everything. At this point we are jumping to conclusions. Machine learning skills could be needed for Siri or many other projects at Apple. I see no evidence that this hire is for anything specific.

    I agree.
  • Reply 17 of 75
    You have about five years (at minimum) to mull it over.

    The roadmap I am aware of in the automotive OEM and tier 1 level is seeing autonomous driving not emerging before 2025. And that's very optimistic. The level of assistance will obviously increase with any year. However, the last step of true autonomous driving is the hardest.
  • Reply 18 of 75
    cali wrote: »
    If you see the video explanation above this is similar to what I've been saying, Apple will most likely NOT release an autonomous vehicle first but an electric car with tons of sensors and collect all this data back home for a future autonomous vehicle.

    Yep.
  • Reply 19 of 75
    The term "deep thinking" makes me smile a bit. I'm maybe out of touch with the latest in AI, but I learned NN during my time at the Uni and to my knowledge the biggest ch age ha been the computational abilities, not the theory underneath. It's still based on backprop, Petri nets, etc and derivatives. Nice to see it slowly having real life applications other than self learning cleaning robots at home ;)
  • Reply 20 of 75

    “Do you want to sell faulty GPUs and lies about vRAM for the rest of your life, or do you want to...”

    Actually, I don’t want that sort of failure in a car.

    Actually, you already have. Look at the recent recalls due to faulty airbags, or ignition locks. And that's only the ones that make it to the press.
    Plus, the cases of misuse while it's still assisted and not fully autonomous. As you can see in the other thread, people already have a hard time understanding what wifi assist means.
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