Behind the scenes with Carl Anthony, Founder of AutoVision News

There’s a new kid on the block when it comes to news and features for the ADAS and autonomous vehicle engineering community. Launched earlier this year, AutoVision News has been warmly received by the community, and is spearheaded by Carl Anthony, who you’ll recognise from our AutoSens Insights interview series. Rob Stead asks Carl a few questions about the origins and mission of AutoVision News.

Carl, we know you from Automoblog and of course we’ve worked together on previous editions of AutoSens, but can you tell me where the idea for AutoVision News came from?

A few years ago, we had a section on Automoblog called the “Future of Transportation.” In that section, we covered the latest news and trends with autonomous cars. Our media partnership with AutoSens was instrumental as we built up the content within that section of our website.

However, looking back, I regret that we became caught up in the hype that surrounded autonomous cars at the time. While we were doing our level best to cover the latest developments, we became confident that autonomous driving would be here between 2020 or 2025. At that time, the narrative about how quickly autonomous cars would enter production and how many problems they would immediately solve was quite powerful. I don’t think we were aware of all of the challenges ahead for next-generation ADAS systems, let alone fully-autonomous cars.

As our media partnership with AutoSens continued, we began to understand the broader scope of the picture. We talked with engineers and met with companies who showed us the challenges on a technical level. The more presentations I attended at AutoSens, and the more ADAS experts I interviewed, the more I became convinced our coverage of the subject needed to change.

We ended up eventually pulling down that section on Automoblog with the intent to make a new site entirely. This new site would be dedicated strictly to ADAS and autonomy, but with the focus of telling the story in real-time. We wanted a publication that would paint an accurate picture of what is happening in the space and something that would help engineers in the field.

After attending AutoSens for as long as we had, we realized we could not do it ourselves. One of the key messages we absorbed at AutoSens was the idea of not working in a silo. In other words, if the industry wants to achieve the societal benefits that autonomous cars could usher in, then we needed to collaborate and work together.

This was the basis of an honest and heartfelt conversation in May of 2019 when AutoSens returned to Detroit that year. The idea of AutoVision News was born at that event inside the Michigan Science Center. We approached Sense Media with this idea for a new publication, one that was focused solely on the evolving landscape of ADAS and autonomy. We explained to Sense Media how we wanted to have not just a section – but an entire website – dedicated to the future of transportation and mobility. And above all else, we wanted something that engineers and vehicle perception technology managers would view as a valuable resource. In the spirit of collaboration that surrounds every AutoSens event, they agreed to help us launch the new site. And here we are, a year later now, and AutoVision News is getting off the ground.

What role do you see AutoVision News playing in the market, for the engineering community?

Before I moved to Detroit, I was in sales at a dealership in South Dakota called Sioux Falls Ford. I was hired in late 2008, right as the market was experiencing a dramatic slowdown. While those early days were difficult selling cars, our dealership had a saying I think helped us weather the storm: “to be so effective we can be helpful to others.”

That is one of my ultimate goals for AutoVision News with the engineering community. We want the content we publish to be informative, unbiased, and ultimately useful and practical. If we can do that, we can be a helpful resource for the automotive professionals working each day on ADAS technology.

I also believe one of the best roles we can fulfill for the engineering community is to be accessible. I have seen this countless times in my work for AutoSens TV and AutoSens Insights. The experts on camera with me are always willing to talk with customers personally. Many will even give their e-mail during interviews and encourage viewers who have questions to contact them. In the dozens of interviews I have done, one thing is for sure: companies in this space genuinely care about their customers.

Similarly, with AutoVision News, we promise that same level of accessibility and care. Every message that comes into the site is rerouted directly to my inbox. If our readers have a question, we want to hear from them. There are also numerous marketing and media relations professionals in this space. I enjoy hearing personally from each of them and learning about the companies they represent.

How does AVN sit alongside Automoblog? Are there synergies you are exploring?

Automoblog and AutoVision News are sister publications under our Gearhead Media umbrella. Automoblog is an automotive news, technology, and lifestyle publication that helps readers understand more about cars and driving. AutoVision News, by contrast, supports engineers, scientists, and vehicle perception technology managers who are working on ADAS and autonomous driving platforms.

Automoblog is more of a traditional car website, and our audience is primarily enthusiasts and consumers. AutoVision News is more industry-leaning as it focuses on the future of transportation. They are two remarkably different publications on the surface, but I do believe there are some synergies.

My experience with Automoblog has given me a real passion and appreciation for the automobile. Automoblog has provided me with a broader vantage point, as I have written about many different vehicles and manufacturers. The industry insights I have gleaned from Automoblog over the years are remarkably useful as we engage the ADAS community with AutoVision News. Similarly, my involvement with AutoSens and my subsequent work with AutoVision News has allowed me to better communicate to Automoblog readers the current state of ADAS of autonomy.

Another synergy is the ‘proving ground’ that Automoblog provides for AutoVision News. Over the years, we have refined things like our website design and editorial voice. We have learned a great deal about what types of content are effective and how to structure that content. These lessons learned with Automoblog have proven valuable as we continue forward with AutoVision News.

Tell me about the team, who else is involved at AVN, and who’s on the roster writing your content?

In addition to members of the Sense Media team, Phil Magney, Founder and President of VSI Labs, has written for us. We currently have featured articles from robotics expert Divya Agarwal and Dr. Andrew Baker-Campbell, an expert in sensor systems. Claire Charlton, who has a wealth of experience covering autonomous vehicles, recently began writing for us. The newest member of our team is Emily Pruitt, a young writer who recently graduated with her English and Digital Marketing degrees.

What’s the long term vision for the platform?

In time, I would like to see AutoVision News playing more of a role on the global stage of ADAS and autonomy. I hope we will ultimately be viewed as a top industry authority in the same way people view organizations like AAA, Consumer Reports, or PAVE. In time, I would like to see one of our team members on television, or in a documentary film, being interviewed about ADAS and autonomy.

While these goals give us something to look forward to, I always want to make sure AutoVision News is accessible to the engineering and ADAS community. I don’t want us to grow so big that we forget our roots or our community. This is why one of our most important long term visions is to always serve as a voice for those who are doing exciting things in this space.

A good example recently is the work of Dr. Mónica López-González. She is a brilliant scientist who looks at the state of ADAS and autonomy with an entirely different, but extremely relevant viewpoint. Dr. López-González demonstrates how we can use multiple disciplines, from cognitive science to the arts, to address some of the key challenges facing autonomous driving.

It was an honor to talk with her recently and learn about her background and research. And this is what I love about my work with AutoVision News. One of my long-term visions is to continually spotlight what these brilliant engineers and scientists are doing.

I know you’ve been studying engineering too, how have you balanced your studies with launching AVN?

With the responsibility of overseeing Automoblog and AutoVision News, my engineering degree is one step at a time. I can often only take one class at a time, or I must take a semester off because I cannot dedicate the time required for both work and school. Going back to school at my age is a slow climb versus a straight shot.

Despite this, I so very much enjoyed my calculus and other math classes. I would sometimes work five to seven hours a day on problems with my professors and tutors because I wanted to understand the concepts. Even though I am slowly earning my degree, the recent math classes have helped me manage Automoblog and AutoVision News. Doing math has a way of unlocking your brain’s creative potential, or at least it has done so for me.

Someday, I would like to take my engineering degree and teach higher-level mathematics. If I am still residing in the United States at the time, I would like to teach night classes at a community college to other non-traditional students like myself. Despite my dream of being an engineer one day, I was afraid of taking courses like trigonometry and calculus. I know other older students like me feel the same way.

The ADAS and autonomous driving community has helped me appreciate sound science and engineering. Likewise, this community has taught me a lot about leadership and mentoring. It is a dream of mine to combine that, with my engineering degree, to help other non-traditional students find success in their study of mathematics.

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