NVIDIA expands autonomous car development at research site
NVIDIA’s research unit for self-driving cars is growing and taking over space in the historic former Bell Labs building, in Holmdel, N.J. The team is doubling its office space at the site. The site will provide room for more engineers eager to pioneer deep learning—and track test it.
Bell Works, as the facility is now known, and NVIDIA’s exact office space inside, was the research office of machine learning and deep learning pioneers such as Yann LeCun, Leon Bottou, Yoshua Bengio, Vladimir Vapnik, and many others. In the ‘80s, they invented convolutional neural networks, which form the basis of today’s deep learning and have revolutionized fields such as image classification and speech recognition.
Bell Labs research alumni—including Urs Muller and Larry Jackel, who worked with LeCun and the others in the ‘90s on convolutional networks—are now at NVIDIA and remain focused on deep learning for autonomous driving to improve safety.
Bell Works today remains both a historic research center and an architectural marvel. The building was designed by Eero Saarinen, a Finnish-American industrial designer and architect whose neo-futurism style shines at the TWA Flight Center at New York’s Kennedy airport. The modernist, glass-walled Bell Works building, which is the length of three football fields, was listed last year on the National Register of Historic Places. Along with NVIDIA, it houses a mix of tech startups and corporate research labs.
The site boasts three miles of private test roads just outside its garage, including test vehicles and support gear. Just outside the private track, the area nearby has plenty of winding roads ideal to put the self-driving cars through rigorous tests.