I just got back from the Automated Vehicles Symposium in Detroit last week. The conference was extremely impressive – reflecting the latest and greatest from AV and CV technology developers, academic folks studying human factors and ethics, government officials testing and working on regulating the technology, and even insurance providers! It was exciting to see how far these stakeholders have come and how quickly they’re working to figure out the rest. Here are some photos from the conference, including my first experience in a driverless car!
There were two instances at this conference where definitions came up:
- Since the conference was called “Automated Vehicles Symposium,” I was curious to hear how they define automation. It turns out “automated” is intended to cover all levels of automation, so it encompasses function-specific automation (e.g., cruise control and driverless parking) to fully autonomous vehicles (see NHTSA’s vehicle automation definitions). Connected vehicles also provide various levels of automation. This is relevant because the government is in a position now to regulate automated vehicles as auto manufacturers increase the level of automation in vehicles.
- My favorite part of the conference was the break-out session titled “Beyond Single Occupancy Vehicles: Automating Transit and Shared Mobility.” There were fantastic speakers and incredibly spirited discussions afterwards – mostly focused on a very basic question: How do we define transit? Wikipedia defines it as “a shared passenger transport service which is available for use by the general public.” LyftLine and UberPool are just a few of the latest service offerings that are challenging this definition. In my opinion, any transportation service where the government is funding a vehicle that transports more than one member of the public at a time is public transit. How that service is delivered (especially as driverless cars are available) is another story.
There are probably many other examples of words with changing definitions in light of autonomous vehicles, but these were the two that stuck out to me. Do you have thoughts on others?