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We got a look inside the latest Lamborghini Avenntador sports car last week at Nvidia’s GPU Technology conference in San Jose, Calif. It was there because it sports a sci-fi style user interface on the inside, as if you were piloting a fighter jet. As you can tell from the inside of this car, the future of the automobile will include a lot of technology that powers the touchscreens, instrument clusters, and gauges. Once stodgy, cars are racing ahead, so to speak, so they can keep up with the trends in technology.
Danny Shapiro, the director of automotive products at graphics chip maker Nvidia, showed us the car and the cool electronics inside it. Nvidia has scored a deal to get its Tegra mobile computing chips into a whole fleet of cars under the Volkswagen Group, including Audi, VW, Bentley, and Lamborghini. The Lamborghini infotainment screen shows Google Maps in full 3D. You can zoom in or zoom out; the system is very responsive. The device uses a Tegra 3 processor, the same mobile processor found in smartphones and tablets. The reason is that car makers are racing to make their cars compatible with all of the mobile devices that drivers are carrying, and they are doing so with safety and comfort in mind.
The Lamborghini’s computer system has its own features, as the user interfaces are customizable and based on the design style of the car. The Audi group cars designers are adopting the Tegra VCM, a module that enables them to add a new kind of Tegra chip every year, fitting it into the same slot in the car’s electronics system. That way, the cars can swap out for a better processor each year. The Audi Connect technology (not used in the Lamborghini) makes it possible to connect the car on a wireless network that gives you more services. Tesla’s Model S car also uses a Tegra 3 chip to power a 17-inch touchscreen.
I took a test drive in a BMW 7 series car last week and was particularly impressed with the heads-up display on the windshield, which told me the speed that I was traveling and the speed limit on that street. That information did not obstruct my view, but its presence on the windshield meant that I did not need to look down to see it. It really does make you feel like a fighter pilot.
Here’s our video interview with Shapiro.