The Automated Vehicles Symposium (AVS) held its annual conference in Orlando back in July – an event where I had the honor of both attending and presenting. With over 1,800 attendees –– which primarily consisted of mobility experts –– the recurring themes I saw myself coming across were safety and regulation, worldwide collaboration, and cybersecurity. My experience at this event confirmed my belief that as autonomous vehicles (AVs) become more mainstream, public safety perceptions surrounding them will need to change. At the 2019 Automated Vehicles Symposium in Orlando, experts shared their thoughts on how to bridge that educational gap.

Safety and regulation is a popular topic that almost always gets brought up when discussing AVs. In November 2018, Uber released “A Principled Approach to Safety”, which provided voluntary self-assessments of safety practices by their Advanced Technologies Group and retained LeClairRyan to conduct external reviews of such processes. The company also started sponsoring independent research to create a framework called “Measuring Automated Vehicle Safety”. Uber ATG has developed a goal structured notation (GSN) diagram for its safety argument to detail individual elements of an argument and the relationships between each point. This diagram aims to lessen the challenge of communicating the complex dependencies of comprehensive approach to self-driving system safety. Volvo echoed this sentiment, and emphasized the need to move away from a consumer-based understanding of automation since safety depends entirely on the operational design domain. The reference driver model, a construct displaying the driver framework, must mimic attentive, skilled, and experienced driver performance in various road, weather, and lighting conditions.

An additional theme on the minds of global mobility leaders is collaboration. One interesting example of collaboration discussed onsite was potential partnerships between cities and telecom companies. Cities and telecom companies are joining forces to adopt 5.9 GHz as a ‘safety band’ to enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications so autonomous ground vehicles can provide important data to connected city infrastructure such as smart traffic lights and cell phone towers. One of the most highly anticipated deployments of such smart infrastructure will occur during the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo. At the event, traffic signal information will be broadcasted, vehicle information will be displayed on highways, and self-driving buses will transport visitors across the city. There will also be some on-field robots during the games.

At this year’s Automated Vehicles Symposium, Mrinal Sood, technical sales manager at Innoviz, discussed sensing and perception and how LiDAR is one of the key technologies that will shape the autonomous vehicle landscape.

In addition to cities working with telecom providers, automotive OEMs are also joining forces to prevent AV accidents and inform appropriate regulators in the industry. In the years ahead, society is expected to show significantly lower acceptance for fatal accidents caused by AVs compared to humans. Distinction between AVs causing accidents and AVs avoiding/mitigating accidents caused by others will be studied greatly as deployments increase across the world, especially in the U.S., Europe, China, Singapore, Japan, and Australia. To overcome this negative public sentiment, some OEMs have jointly formed an ‘Automated Vehicle Safety Consortium’ to focus on advancing safe deployments of L4 and L5 vehicles, and plan to use the resulting data to accelerate formal standards worldwide such as ISO, ANSI, IEC, etc.

Finally, cybersecurity was discussed onsite as an area of the AV landscape in need of greater innovation. Existing non-autonomous vehicles have vulnerabilities in the controller area network (CAN) as well as infotainment units that are connected to the internet. As autonomy increases, so will the associated security threats to these systems, especially due to increased cellular connectivity and software updates over-the-air (OTA). Experts at this year’s event advised that strong end-to-end encryption and isolation gateways will help reduce such threats, but emphasized that these protections must follow strict standards and be validated appropriately before being fully implemented. For example, the UK government created the CAVPASS project – Connected and Automated Vehicle Process for Assuring Safety and Security. The initial focus of CAVPASS is to create a process for advanced trials of connected and automated vehicles as promised in the revised Code of Practice. An interesting aspect of AV cybersecurity will involve protection for real-time transactions to provide insurance on demand to passengers as well as toll charges for the AV.

Walking away from this year’s Automated Vehicles Symposium, it’s clear that an educational gap needs to be filled surrounding AV safety, and that peer-to-peer collaboration and cybersecurity innovation are key to driving the industry forward. We at Innoviz look forward to filling this gap and working with others in the space to deliver safe, secure, and reliable LiDAR solutions that power our ideal autonomous future.