Electric Avenue: NVIDIA Engineer Revs Up Classic Car to Sport AI

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Arman Toorians isn’t your average classic car restoration hobbyist.

The NVIDIA engineer recently transformed a 1974 Triumph TR6 roadster at his home workshop into an EV featuring AI.

Toorians built the vehicle to show a classic car can be recycled into an electric ride that taps NVIDIA Jetson AI for safety, security and vehicle management features.

He hopes the car blazes a path for others to explore electric vehicle conversions that pack AI.

“My objective is to encourage others to take on this task — it’s a lot of fun,” he said.

Where It Began

The story begins when Toorians purchased the Triumph in “junkyard condition” for $4,000 from a retired cop who gave up on ambitions of restoring the car.

The conversion cost $20,000 in parts. He acquired a motor from NetGain Motors, electrical components from EV West, Triumph parts from Moss Motors, and five Tesla batteries capable of 70 miles on a charge for his setup. NVIDIA supplied the Jetson Xavier NX developer kit.

To find spare time, the quadrilingual Persian-Armenian musician took a hiatus from playing flamenco and jazz guitar. Co-workers and friends cheered on his effort, he said, while his wife and son gave a hand and advice as needed.

Three years in the making, the car’s sophisticated build with AI may just set a new bar for the burgeoning classic-to-electric conversion space.

Jetson for Security 

The car is smart. And it may have as much in common with a Tesla as it does with future generations of EVs from automakers everywhere adopting AI.

That’s because he installed the NVIDIA Jetson NX developer kit in the little sports car’s trunk. The power-efficient Jetson edge AI platform provides compact supercomputing performance capable of handling multi-modal inference, devouring data from the car’s sensors and camera.

Toorian’s Triumph packs the compact Jetson Xavier NX in the trunk for AI.

“Jetson is a great platform that addresses many different markets and can also be very easily used to solve many problems in this DIY electric car market,” Toorians said.

Toorians, a director in the Jetson group, uses the Jetson Xavier NX for a growing list of cool features. For example, using a dash cam feed and the NVIDIA DeepStream SDK for intelligent video analytics, he’s using the Jetson to work on securing the car. Like the talking car KITT from the hit ‘80s TV series Knight Rider, the Triumph will be able to react with verbal warnings to anyone unauthorized to be in or around it.

If that doesn’t work to deter a threat to the vehicle, his plans are for Jetson to step it up a notch and activate alarms and email alerts.

Lighter, Faster, Cleaner

The sleek sports car has impressive specs. It’s now lighter, faster and cleaner on its energy usage than when it rolled out of the factory decades ago. It also doesn’t leave motor oil stains or the stench of gas and exhaust fumes in its wake.

In place of the greasy 350-pound six cylinder gas engine, Toorians installed a shiny 90-pound electrical motor. The new motor lives in the same spot under the hood and puts out 134 horsepower versus the stock engine’s 100 horses, providing peppy takeoffs.

The Triumph’s engine bay sports a lighter, cleaner and peppier motor.

He gets a lot of thumbs-up reactions to the car. But for him the big payoff is repurposing the older gasoline vehicle to electric to avoid environmental waste and exhaust pollutants.

“Electric cars help keep our air and environment clean and are the way toward a more sustainable future in transportation,” he said.

Jetson for Safety

Among its many tricks, the Triumph uses AI to recognize the driver so that only authorized users can start it — and only when seat belts are fastened by both the driver and passenger.

The dash camera running through Jetson — which can process more than 60 frames per second — is being used to generate lane departure warnings.

Front and rear lidar generate driver alerts if objects are in the Triumph’s path or too close. The front lidar and the dash cam can also be used to run the cruise control.

Jetson processes the front and rear battery temperatures and translates it for the analog temperature gauges. Jetson is also called on to read the battery capacity and display it on the analog fuel gauge, keeping it stock. Another nice one: the fuel cap now covers the charging port.

Touches like these — as well as keeping a functioning four-speed shifter — allowed the car to keep its original look.

“Rebuilding older generation cars with electric motors and computers helps us recycle good gasoline engine cars that otherwise would have to be destroyed,” he said.

DIY makers and businesses alike turn to NVIDIA Jetson for edge AI.

 

 

The post Electric Avenue: NVIDIA Engineer Revs Up Classic Car to Sport AI appeared first on The Official NVIDIA Blog.

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