We couldn’t be happier with how AutoSens went this year. After bursting onto the conference scene just 12 months ago, it has been a busy year for the Sense Media team, but we believe the 2017 Brussels conference is where we saw it really all come together with 450 attendees at the event in AutoWorld. With the team now up to seven full time staff, we have all bases covered and have been able to focus on driving quality and value throughout the event. We had a very productive IEEE P2020 meeting on Monday, with over 45 participants illustrating the continued momentum of the project. We are working towards release of a white paper in early 2018 and the standard is starting to take shape as new work packets have been identified and ownership allocated. An all-day demo session and 5 expert workshops kicked off the main conference, with strong attendance and good feedback all round. The venue looked great with additional branding throughout and the exhibition expanded to include the Blue Boulevard, featuring three static demo vehicles from Valeo Vision Systems, Dataspeed, and XenomatiX. The conference agenda
was true to the founding principals of technical integrity and no sales slides. Two plenary sessions and three tracks covered a wide range of topics, tied together by the concept of ‘vehicle perception’ that is at the core of AutoSens. Highlights included Prof Luc van Gool of Toyota Research Labs and Dr Erik Vinkhuysen of Nissan Research Center, but all sessions were characterised by lively discussion, valuable technical content and high levels of audience participation. With over 60 presentations and 4 panel discussions there was something for everyone and lots of inspiration for the next agenda in Detroit.
We heard a lot about innovations in sensor technology, testing and validation methodologies, amazing advances in processing hardware and software. There is huge investment in developing new technologies to enable autonomous vehicles. But we also heard how difficult a task it is. Driving is one of the most complex tasks we humans do on a daily basis. It is a web of sensory inputs, emotional and physical perception of the fixed environment, people and vehicles around us, it’s so hard in fact that many humans are not very good at it. The challenge is to design computers and robots that can perform this task better than humans can, while also causing minimal disruption to a system that will include human driven vehicles for many decades to come. It is an often understated challenge and
the AutoSens conference served to remind us of the scale of the challenge. We must remember that despite the advanced technology being applied to solving these problems, we humans are at the centre of it all, as designers, engineers and drivers. We are surprisingly easy to predict, most of the time. But it is the edge cases, the unexpected scenarios that are the most difficult to predict but which we humans are so well suited to dealing with – these are where technology still has some way to go to meet human standards. Don’t get me wrong, all of this work has been and will continue to contribute to better and better ADAS systems and those systems are proven to make our lives significantly safer, whether a driver, cyclist or pedestrian. To some extent it doesn’t matter how long it takes to get to level 5 autonomy because cars will still get safer and safer each year. But we also know that the push for the golden goose of full autonomy will not shrink or disappear any time soon, and the scale of that challenge will keep us all in gainly employment for a good few years to come!
Our first edition of the AutoSens Awards at the stunning Atomium venue couldn’t have gone better, with an audience of around 70, the intimate evening event was a true celebration of the hard work that has advanced vehicle perception over the last 12 months and more. Winners were truly from across the spectrum of the supply chain, from independent individuals and start-ups, to some of the world’s biggest tech companies. It was the perfect complement to the technical conference agenda and I’m looking forward to see the Awards grow in stature over the coming years. Certainly, there will be lots more innovation and research that is worthy of acknowledgement at an international level in the next 12 months and I for one am looking forward to seeing the Detroit conference agenda take shape in the next few months.
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