I just spent the last few days at the Automated Vehicle Symposium, a conference organized by AUVSI and the Transportation Research Board (TRB). I attend many conferences, but I wanted to write about this one just because it, to me, is one of the most valuable conferences for finding a balanced perspective on automated vehicles. Representatives from the technology developers (e.g., Google), OEMs (e.g., Ford, GM), insurance companies, U.S. federal, state, and local government representatives, acadmemics, consultants (like me!), and all of those stakeholders’ international counterparts were in attendance. I especially love to meet and see the experts who I am often reading about in automated vehicle publications and news articles.
Here are some of the key observations/themes that I noted from this conference:
- Government regulation was constantly discussed, but the largest issue debated seemed to be whether or not the government should develop regulations in advance of the technology being publicly available or wait until afterwards (as government has traditionally done). Mark Rosekind, the NHTSA Administrator, mocked the fact that the government is constantly being told they’re too slow and yet now – they’re being asked to slow down!
- It was acknowledged that different states are putting regulations in place (and not putting regulations in place) all with the ultimate goal of improved safety, but each state’s approach is very different. This continues to present challenges for the technology developers and any inter-state demos/pilots.
- I was pleasantly surprised to hear how both the public and private sector stressed the importance of building public awareness around automated and connected vehicles. I’m looking forward to seeing how that evolves.
- The Tesla accident was mentioned many times (how could it not?!), but it was not a focus and everyone seemed to acknowledge it and then encourage continued forward progress.
- This conference focused more on automation + connectivity being ideal (I didn’t feel like that theme came out in past years).
- I was thrilled to hear that the United States government will be actively partnering with other governments around the world for the purposes of knowledge and data sharing. It’s clear that many other countries (e.g., Sweden, Germany, the UK, and Japan) are making amazing progress in this space.
Any other conference attendees have any interesting observations?