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What’s cooking inside Nvidia’s robotics research lab

Nvidia robot open house
Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang and Susan Gaither tickle a robotic hand at Nvidia’s robotics research lab in Seattle. (Nvidia Photo)

When Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang interacted with a sensitive robotic hand at today’s open house for his company’s robotics research lab in Seattle, it was love at first touch.

“It almost feels like a pet!” Huang said as he tickled the hand’s fingers, causing them to retreat gently.

“It’s surprisingly therapeutic,” he told the crowd around him. “Can I have one?”

The robotic hand, which is programmed to avoid poking humans when they come too close, was just one of the machines on display at the 13,000-square-foot lab in Seattle’s University District.

Nvidia is based in California’s Silicon Valley and has nearly 200 employees working at an engineering center in Redmond, Wash.

But when the chipmaker laid plans to open a lab focusing on research in robotics and artificial intelligence, it set up shop in the same building that houses the University of Washington’s CoMotion Lab. It also put Dieter Fox, a longtime computer science professor at UW, in charge of the operation as senior director of robotics research.

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Audi and Nvidia team up on autonomous car

Audi Q7
In a self-driving car demo, CES attendees can ride in the back seat of an Audi Q7 piloted driving concept car that has no one behind the wheel. (Nvidia Photo)

Nvidia may be best-known for video games, but its deal with Audi to provide the smarts for an autonomous vehicle in 2020 demonstrates that it’s not just playing games in the artificial intelligence realm.

The expanded Audi partnership, announced this week at CES in Las Vegas, is just one of several hookups that the California-based chip company has forged with automakers.

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