Anyone can use NVIDIA's physics simulation engine

PhysX 4.0 is also better-suited to high-precision simulations.

NVIDIA isn't just showing off its Titan RTX GPU and some clever AI demos -- it also has big news for anyone interested in more realistic computer physics. The company is releasing its hardware-accelerated PhysX simulation engine as an open source project, making it accessible to virtually everyone. It's a recognition that the technology is useful for more than just convincing game physics, NVIDIA said. PhysX can help with more accurate AI and robotics simulations, including self-driving car technology. You could see vehicles and bots that are better-prepared for real-world conditions.

The company has simultaneously unveiled the PhysX 4.0 toolkit, which promises faster and more accurate physics that goes beyond the technology's gaming foundations. It's better at handling contact between hundreds of objects, for example, and it can better handle challenges like parallel structures or larger masses. You likely won't jump for joy if you aren't a developer, but this does hint at realistic gaming in addition to what it can do for AI and robots.

Of course, it's easy for NVIDIA to do this now that PhysX has been closed source for a decade. The company has arguably milked its competitive advantage for all it's worth. Still, it's good news whether you're anticipating the future of fully autonomous cars or just want sophisticated physics in more of your games.