Humans error leads to tens of thousands of deaths on the road every year. Developments in mobility technology are hoping to significantly decrease this number. The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2020) is the largest consumer technology-focused conference in the U.S. and is also known for attracting a huge presence from the technology companies that are shaping the mobility industry.
At CES 2019, we saw everything from self-driving vehicle debuts and autonomous helicopter concepts to new virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) demonstrations. Since then, both startups and big automakers in the mobility industry have continued to receive large investments in the autonomy, connected car, electrification and smart mobility categories. According to a recent McKinsey report, in the last two years, there has been nearly $120 billion in disclosed investments in these categories.
At the beginning month, CES 2020 took place in Las Vegas Nevada and the big mobility trends showcased included electric vehicles (new designs and concepts), a change in vehicle architecture, new deployments in autonomous vehicles and what the future of AI looks like.
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ces 2020: mobility highlights
1. The power of 5g at ces 2020
The emergence of 5G was one of the biggest themes at CES this year for the auto industry. 5G is a new kind of network that will not only enhance today’s mobile broadband services, but will also expand mobile networks within the mobility sector. This year at CES 2020, a key announcement regarding 5G technology came from BMW. The company announced that its all-electric iNext SUV will be the first car in the world to be equipped with 5G technology from Samsung and HARMAN for automated driving and infotainment including streaming video games.
HARMAN also showcased pedestrian safety (V2P) solutions that help prevent incidents/accidents, enhanced with 5G-based C-V2X networks. HERE Technologies and Verizon also announced that they will be collaborating using fast 5G data and edge computing for collision avoidance. The technology will also create better location identification and navigation for ridesharing pick-up and drop-offs.
2. VEHICLE ARCHITECTURE
Even though shared mobility is gaining traction in the industry, the individual vehicle ownership model is still a major focal point for building a more sustainable future for mobility. As battery costs continue to drop and battery capacity grows, electric vehicles are helping to create a more environmentally sustainable future. Bosch’s electric vehicle powertrain could be the beginnings of a new kind of automotive trend. Since this powertrain is commercially available, it opens the door for startups and traditional OEMs to get to production faster by having a fully functioning battery, motors and controllers readily available.
Amazon announced that their electric truck, the Rivian R1T will enable automotive functions from Alexa this year at CES 2020. The vehicle will eventually allow the driver to open the hood, control the climate and roll up windows using voice control technology. from opening the hood climate control, rolling windows up and down, and even opening the hood and trunk.
There were several Karma vehicles displayed across the convention to illustrate various new technologies in exhibits and demos. Nissan was showcasing an electric ice cream van that was offering free hand-scooped ice cream chilled by repurposed lithium-ion cells from Nissan EVs to the crowds.
One stand out vehicle at the event was Sony’s Vision-S which exists somewhere between a concept and a prototype. The Vision-S is an electric concept car focused on “safety, entertainment, and adaptability,” incorporates Sony’s automotive-focused imaging technology, and is surrounded by an array of sensors which Sony is calling the “Safety Cocoon,” providing the vehicle with a 360-degree view of its environment. One of the big focal points of the vehicle is, unsurprisingly, the entertainment experience and user interface. That starts with a set of rectangular displays on the dashboard that stretch from pillar to pillar.
3. AUTOMATED VEHICLES
In preparation for the future of AI technology, automakers are investing in and partnering with technology and mobility-focused startups which allows them to share knowledge, expand their capabilities and expertise to remain relevant in an industry on the verge of massive transformation. Companies such as GM, Toyota, Hyundai, VW, Ford, and BMW have all recently partnered with startups to stay competitive in an ever-changing industry.
This spirit of partnership seemed to be a focus in the artificial intelligence technology sector. In his annual CES address, Intel Senior Vice President and Mobileye CEO Prof. Amnon Shashua called for more transparency in technology to enable the future of autonomous driving. During the convention he presented new details behind the company’s latest technology advancements to demonstrate the innovative approach it is taking to make autonomy a reality.
He also detailed how Mobileye achieves pixel-level scene segmentation that can be used to detect tiny fragments of road users such as wheelchairs, open vehicle doors and more, as well as the ways in which Mobileye technology turns two-dimensional sensors into 3D understanding. In the panel discussion, he again mentions where Mobileye is with regards to their technology and understanding and calls for all tech companies in the space to join forces and share information in a hopes of bringing full self-driving technology to the commercial market.
Autonomous shuttle concepts could be found at CES 2020 and are expected to lead the way in the on-demand AI market, such as last-mile transportation and food delivery modals. Some of the relevant showcases were Mobileye’s robotaxi “VW Cedric” in TelAviv which will be launched in 2022 and LG and Adient’s self-driving connected pod, showcasing a host of services from entertainment to payment options. Toyota also showcased its e-Palette and micro Palette (AV delivery robots), which is expected to debut at the Tokyo Olympics this year and Bosch showcased their IoT shuttle, highlighting how it can support both networked mobility services and on-demand mobility.
4. ces 2020 AUTOMATED DRIVING TECHNOLOGY Panel
Autonomous vehicle developers need to incorporate four critical elements: unlimited and immediate data connectivity, foolproof expandability, ironclad security and safety-by-design. But how do we get there? How do these companies build a level of trust with the public?
Answer: A new coalition designed for recognizing the need for communication with the public – PAVE. Pave is a coalition of private sector companies, non-profits and academic institutions. The goal of the organisation is to help ensure the public and their governing bodies to understand the limitations in AI technology but also the possibilities. It’s an educational group, not an advocacy group, meaning there will be less hype and more accurate knowledge of what autonomous technology can do on our roads today. Not everyone in the industry is on the same page, they have major philosophical differences on AI technology, so the consumer is confused. There is no regulation, everyone is operating in a vacuum trying to discover a way forward for themselves.
That is why PAVE was formed and at CES 2020 there was an AI mobility panel with experts in the industry, all of who are part of the PAVE coalition. Panelists included Deborah A.P Hersman, the President and CEO of the National Safety Council and Chairwoman for the Road to Zero Coalition. Alex Haag, CTO and Head of Technology, Autonomous Intelligent Driving, a wholly owned subsidiary of AUDI AG. Prof. Amnon Shashua, President and CEO, Mobileye, an Intel Company and Chris Urmson, Co-Founder and CEO, Aurora. The moderator of this panel was journalist and automotive technology correspondent for Reuters, Alexandria Sage.
How cohesive is the industry (or not) in terms of a safety message?
Alexa Haag began the conversation with stating that there is a problem with cohesion in the industry, which is why PAVE was created. There is a lot of competition on who can get it out the fastest. There was a period to understand the concept first, but now it’s the moment where companies agree come together to progress the technology.
Deborah Hersman followed up by saying that the opportunity to create a cohesive safety message is there for the taking. While both safety bills were introduced into the house and senate, there is still a need to educate the public in order for legislation to come together. PAVE is now the opportunity for diverse viewpoints to come together – to compromise and move forward.
Chris Urmson added that the tech is exciting because it has a broad set of applications. Safety features all the way to automated mobility systems. The same language is used to talk about all of them, which has lead to confusion for the consumer. Companies need to be clear on the different products they are creating. The underlying motivation is reducing the injuries and fatalities on roads and to be able to tell the story to the public and make people understand why they should care about this technology.
Amnon Shashua finished by stating that no one wants over regulation but that we are currently in a state of under regulation. Industry experts and governing bodies need to find the right kind, somewhere in the middle, in order to steer industry towards getting public support. PAVE is the organization to do this.
If you are a startup working in AI, you are trying to get investors you are trying to hype your product, isn’t this part of the problem?
Chris Urmson spoke about Aurora’s mission statement and how one of the main aims/goals began with safety. We are seeing an interesting new industry emerging and there is a lot of noise and confusion around it. 1 – 5 levels is a good beginning but it was created by an engineering company and it’s not really something that the public can understand fully as there is a lot of nuance. It’s up to the industry leaders to do a better job of translating this into something clear that the public can understand.
Why is PAVE more successful than others before it?
The National Safety Council’s aim is to eliminate preventable deaths. All the partners makes a big tent focusing on education. It’s not just about AVs, it’s about the cars that they are driving today. Deborah Hersman stated that according to the University of Iowa about 40% of drivers have been startled or surprised by something their car did. Lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, etc. are important features that are also the steps that will get us to fully self-driving vehicles. It’s happening so quickly that consumers aren’t aware of what’s happening in the vehicles they are purchasing now. This is why PAVE is necessary.
How do you decide on what to communicate not knowing if the business in ten years is going to be focused on this kind of AI or another Kind of AI?
According to Alex Haag because there is definitely a place for level two systems, business development and communication will be okay. The harder part is the under regulation because they don’t know what is an acceptable goal. You can always do better with safety, should you keep waiting until you can save 100% of lives as opposed to 90% before you make the regulations? Some guidance from regulators on what’s acceptable would help, and framework on what’s going to happen to the automaker when something bad happens, what is their liability?
At CES two years ago, Amnon Shashua from Mobileye collaborated with Delphi and demonstrated a self-driving car in Vegas that drove through the city on its own. What now? He wanted to identify how they could move to commercialisation from this. They needed safety. They identified that they needed to clarify the mathematics. How do you define cautiousness? For machines you need to be precise so you can balance agility and safety. They needed to maximise three dimensions, one was the human definition of cautiousness, two was agility and the third to prove it was implementable in the machine. They built their model and knew they had to standardize it. They needed the help of the industry for this. So they published it a year ago and it has now be implemented into the systems of many automakers internationally and they are hoping their competitors join as well. If it isn’t fully solved, we will never see a commercialisation of fully autonomous vehicles. According to Shashua, this is the biggest barrier that we face.
Are we still going to see small pilot programs in the next two years but not mass roll-out while we wait for this regulation?
In Israel, Mobileye built a joint venture with Volkswagen to start self-driving MaaS service that they want to launch in 2022. Why in Israel? It’s because the government committed to build the right regulatory support to work on the barriers that the companies face and to provide support. According to Shashua, the US doesn’t have the guts to push forward a fully autonomous vehicle on the road.
Chris Urmson disagreed. He thinks the DOT in the US is in support and taking a more thoughtful approach. We’re not currently at the point today where the technology exists and there is a risk if we create regulation right now, we might limit the progress of the technology completely. It’s about a thoughtful approach to regulation, it won’t happen overnight. More conversations with regulators and government are needed to succeed. The problem right now runs deeper with industry as opposed to the government.
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Note: This article has not been endorsed or sponsored by any of the providers mentioned and there is no affiliation between movmi and them.