On Friday, NVIDIA (NVDA 4.28%) ended its week with the announcement of a pending acquisition. The company said it had reached an agreement to acquire DeepMap, a privately held business that specializes in creating high-definition maps to help guide autonomous cars.
NVIDIA did not reveal the price it has agreed to pay for the company.
It did say that DeepMap will help improve the mapping and localization functions of NVIDIA DRIVE, its software-defined autonomous operations system.
NVIDIA clearly has long-range hopes for its asset-to-be. The company quoted its vice president and general manager of automotive Ali Kani as saying that, "DeepMap is expected to extend our mapping products, help us scale worldwide map operations and expand our full self-driving expertise."
While NVIDIA is primarily known among the public as a maker of computer graphics cards, over the past few years it has leveraged its expertise to push assertively into self-driving systems.
Yet although much capital has been expended in developing such systems, not to mention accompanying hardware, the world is still quite some distance away from full autonomy. At the moment, according to the Society of Automotive Engineers' benchmark levels of autonomy scale, experts say we are just at, or a bit below, Level 3 (Level 5 is 100% autonomous operation).
Level 3 is defined as when "[automated] features can drive the vehicle under limited conditions and will not operate unless all required conditions are met."
Considering that, NVIDIA's deal looks like a good chess move that could help the company produce meaningful results well down the road if properly integrated and utilized.
Investors like the DeepMap deal. On Friday, they traded NVIDIA stock up by 2.3%, which trounced the 0.2% increase of the S&P 500 index.