What happened

Shares of NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) were up 12.4% in July, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence, after the company announced driverless car partnerships with both Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) and Audi (OTC:AUDVF).

So What

NVIDIA has been building out its semi-autonomous driving supercomputer, called Drive PX 2, for a while now, but the company expanded its prospects in July when it announced that it would partner with Baidu on self-driving projects and that its latest tech is inside Audi's new A8.

Line graph moving up on blue background.

Image source: Getty Images.

NVIDIA's share price ticked up around the same time that both announcements were made, which is likely an indicator that investors are continuing to believe in NVIDIA's driverless car technology prospects.

The partnership with Baidu will bring NVIDIA's Drive PX supercomputer into the self-driving cars that Baidu is developing with Chinese automakers, and will also bring NVIDIA's Volta graphics processors to Baidu's cloud services.

A few days later, analyst Rajvindra Gill from Needham & Co. said that a Drive PX partnership NVIDIA made with Toyota just a few months ago could bring $1.7 billion in revenue for NVIDIA by 2019. 

All this news was followed by Audi's announcement of its new semi-autonomous A8 luxury sedan, which is using some of NVIDIA's tech to power its advanced self-driving capabilities, which further solidified that NVIDIA is leading the competition in semi-autonomous driving technologies.

Now what

NVIDIA has caught the eye of many tech investors lately and investors have pushed its  share price up 185% over the past year. Much of that optimism has been fueled by the company's prospects in driverless cars, though NVIDIA only makes about 7% of its total revenue from its automotive segment right now.

But investors are looking ahead to driverless cars' potential market size of $77 billion by 2035, and are betting that NVIDIA's processors and Drive PX will continue to be an integral part of this growing market.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.