It sounds like Nvidia has had enough of the pandemic inventory shortage as it has just announced new efforts to use its AI in routing goods from factories to shops and homes – in time for this year’s Black Friday deals.
Nvidia is newly debuted ReOpt AI software combines the company’s existing machine learning software with existing data and algorithms specific to local regions to determine the optimal route for delivery vehicles.
On the way to Black Friday 2021 – which will already be hit by inventory shortages that have kept us away from the latest and greatest gadgets for months – Nvidia suggests that its new tool could be a boon for both consumers and businesses. Manufacturers and stores can make sure that supply chains are running as smoothly as possible and that stocks are where they need to be, while customers can feel a little more relaxed knowing that the top deals aren’t running out as quickly as usual .
Given its proximity to this year’s sales event (early deals are already appearing), it may be a little late for Nvidia to support Black Friday this year. However, Nvidia’s tool could be used to help shoppers grab last minute Christmas gifts in December and take advantage of the January sales we usually see in the New Year.
However, some companies have already adopted the system; Domino’s Pizza uses Nvidia’s ReOpt AI to deliver orders. So, if you feel like your food arrived a little faster than before, then you can thank the graphics card manufacturer.
Analysis: Shaping our future
The computer science nerds among you will instantly recognize this as the latest effort by a company to address the well-known traveling salesman problem – finding the most efficient route between several different points. While this is fairly trivial for a system with few destinations, as you add complexity to the situation and add different routes and modes of transport between locations it becomes difficult for a human to work this out quickly.
The problem is much less of a challenge to a computer, and Nvidia’s experience with graphics cards will greatly benefit its efforts here.
A GPU renders a scene by doing many very simple calculations. The difficulty of this task and the need for very high quality components stem from the fact that a lot of these calculations have to be done at the same time – especially if you are introducing higher quality graphics and effects like ray tracing.
Likewise, measuring the efficiency of a single route from point A to B is not difficult, but the traveling salesman problem is because you have to measure many thousands of routes between many thousands of points. When looking for the most useful data, you also need to do it as close to real time as possible – much like a GPU needs to render an image in real time as the game progresses and reacts to the player’s inputs.
This characteristic of GPUs is also why they are so sought after by cryptocurrency miners – there are many very simple steps involved in mining. This is another reason why you have not found the RTX 3080 that you were urgently looking for.
However, unless logistics are your thing (it’s a pretty boring topic in fairness) then you should keep an eye on Nvidia’s AI. The traveling salesman problem also has applications in DNA sequencing as well Nvidia has announced that a drug discovery startup (Entos) will use its machine learning software to find next-generation treatments that work better than the ones we currently have.
Similarly, Nvidia has stated that its AI could also help scientists better track the effects of climate change and create more accurate models to understand what weather disasters we might see so communities have more time to focus on what lies ahead of us to prepare.
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