A gathering of like-minded scientists and engineers in Detroit 2019
AutoSens truly landed in Detroit this year, and we couldn’t be happier with how it went. We had a busier week than ever, with 450 senior engineers and scientists assembling in downtown Detroit to explore the biggest challenges facing autonomous vehicles.We thoroughly enjoyed meeting a great many people from organisations, institutions and individuals, some new to the AutoSens community and many existing friends. There was a great sense of recognition for AutoSens and all that we are trying to achieve through the event, the community and the numerous related activities.
After our launch year was disrupted by trains and rain, and not quite getting the layout right at our first year at MiSci in 2018, this year the event fulfilled it’s true potential, and the overwhelming feedback is testament to the fact.
The conference workshops, autonomous vehicle demos, roundtables and welcome reception all proved popular on Tuesday and before we knew it, we were opening the main conference on Wednesday. With around 60 speakers and 45 sponsors and exhibitors featuring this year, it was a packed agenda. Having moved the exhibition up to the Science Hall, the layout featured much improved networking and more booths. It made for a much more professional business environment, with the Siemens stand at the heart of a healthy exhibition floor. As lead sponsor, Siemens delivered an entertaining and insightful Keynote on Wednesday morning announcing their new PAVE360 platform, and sponsored the evening reception at HopCat (my favourite pub in the world!), many thanks to Andrew Macleod, the Siemens team, TechCrunch and Autonocast for the support, and being great to work with.
It wasn’t only Siemens who had something new to announce at AutoSens this time, we were also pleased to be the time of choice for Dataspeed to announce their new collaboration with Cepton, and OmniVision’s new OAX4010 ISP with HALE combination algorithm. More exciting announcements from leading tech companies are on their way at AutoSens in Brussels this September, don’t miss out on hearing them with us first.
On Tuesday afternoon we ran some exciting new autonomous vehicle demos with 3M, VSI, and Dataspeed. With two separate track areas at Wayne State University showing off a host of new technologies not previously seen at AutoSens. Nothing beats seeing real vehicles in action and our partners this year are the two leading companies showcasing technology in situ for both public education initiatives like PAVE, and business/tech demos like AutoSens.
The panel discussions on the agenda were the stand-out feature this year. We were fortunate enough to have a number of sessions with trail-blazing experts taking the stage to discuss, debate and challenge the biggest questions in the industry. Including;
- Fireside Chat – The engineers tell us that autonomous driving is still at the research stage. The product managers tell us that robo-taxis are launching this year. Can both of these be true? with experts from Toyota Motor Corporation, Siemens Mobility and May Mobility. Moderated by Kirsten Korosec, Journalist, TechCrunch
- Panel discussion: What role will mapping play as move towards full autonomy? with experts from TomTom Autonomous Driving, HERE, CARMERA and WaveSense.
- Panel discussion: How can road design and markings, as well as maintenance, be optimised for the various sensor modalities? With experts from Statens Vegvesen – Norwegian Public Roads Administration, Visteon Corporation and 3M Connected Roads
Transportation Safety Division
- Panel discussion: What will China’s impact be on the US autonomous vehicle market? With experts from Automobility Ltd, BYTON and Woodside Capital Partners. Moderated by Lance Eliott, CEO, Techbrium
The discussions received the highest praise from attendees, especially the lively conversation by Gail Gottehrer and Bryant Walker Smith on “Regulatory landscape for autonomous driving and testing in the US”, turning what could have been a somewhat dry topic into a very lively and refreshing discussion. We plan to spend time over the coming weeks to give each of them further air-time and share their outcomes with the wider industry.
More than just a conference at AutoSens
As ever, there were plenty of other activities going on during AutoSens week…
The power of selfless volunteering from curious engineers was awe inspiring, when I saw the smiling faces of the 15 junior school kids who participated in the Hackathon run by DAVG at Lawrence Technical University. Thanks for the heroic efforts of Alex Polonsky, Arpan Rughani and their band of autonomous vehicle enthusiasts, these kids and their parents enjoyed an engaging weekend of learning, teamwork and healthy competition while coding their donkey cars to guide themselves around an RGB track on the classroom floor. I learned a lot about the wider robotics programme at LTU, one of the regions smaller academic institutions, but punching well above its weight in hosting the international ROBOFEST, now in it’s 20th year in 2019.
Another volunteer group, IEEE P2020, assembled on Monday and Tuesday at Washtenaw Community College and enjoyed two days of fruitful discussions and technical work. A number of new members contributing to this important body of work to develop new standards for automotive camera systems. I was pleased to have been introduced to WCC by Phil Santer at Ann Arbor SPARK, and made further personal connections with Dr Michelle Mueller and Alan Lecz whose support was very much appreciated by the working group. The working group meeting also featured a fascinating visit to the American Center for Mobility at Willow Run, the scale and capacity of the facilities there is astounding, and we’re so very grateful to Angela Flood and Jeff Rupp for hosting.
The working group is moving from theory to the testing phase, with a number of the new metrics and test set ups being validated across labs in the coming months. We’ve set a high benchmark to ensure all new tests and processes are reproducible and provide consistent results. As ever, as a volunteer group we are reliant on the generosity of individuals and their employers to contribute their time, lab space and equipment. Sara Sargent of VSI Labs is currently leading a mini-project to coordinate the testing requirements, so please do get in touch if you’d like to be involved. There remains lots of work to do in taking P2020 on the next part of the journey towards a published standard, but the energy and enthusiasm gives me confidence we’ll deliver.
Better is better
So, what next? Well, I’ve come back from Detroit with a hat full of ideas about how we can augment next year’s event even further. It will grow, sure, but bigger is not better – better is better, so we’ll be focused on adding features, value, and extending our reach into support for STEM education and outreach. We’re excited to deepen our relationship with venue MiSci, with Chief Learning Officer, Cassie Byrd commenting “It was great to host AutoSens for a second year here at Michigan Science Center, and exciting to see the event grow into our event spaces in such a natural way. Having the world’s leading experts in ADAS and autonomous vehicles come to our science center comes as we welcome a new Board Member to MiSci, Sherif Marakby, President & CEO, Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, and begin exciting discussions about how to integrate the latest automotive technology into our exhibits and educational programming.”.
Watch this space for news soon, I’ve only just touched down in the UK and I can’t wait for 2020 already..!
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