Paving the Way Toward Safe Autonomous Driving

“It’s not just about technology. It’s about partnerships and the ecosystem,” said Young Sohn, chairman of the board of HARMAN and former president of Samsung Electronics, during The Autonomous Main Event on September 29. The flagship event of The Autonomous Initiative gathered 500 leading experts and decision-makers from 170 companies to discuss the latest AV technologies, regulatory frameworks and safety approaches. 

Today, autonomous vehicles (AVs) represent a potentially disruptive but beneficial change in the way we travel. They are designed to avert deadly crashes, aid the elderly and disabled, increase road capacity, save fuel and make travelling more comfortable and sustainable. Autonomous functions will be one of the economic drivers of the future automotive industry for safe autonomous driving. Goldman Sachs has forecast the global AV market to be US$ 96 billion by 2025 and that by 2050 the total annual economic benefit of autonomous vehicle adoption could be over US$ 3.5 trillion.

Though AVs are on the fast track to availability, there are still barriers, including technological blind spots, a lack of universal safety standards, possible cybersecurity threats, and regulatory and liability challenges. Achieving widespread adoption will depend on a foundation of safety and reliability.

“Collaboration is not an option in the future world. Collaboration is a cornerstone to build an ecosystem for an autonomous future,” as HERE Technologies CEO Edzard Overbeek put it. He was one of the keynote speakers at The Autonomous Hybrid Main Event in Vienna. Ricky Hudi, Chairman of the initiative, summed up the clear message throughout the event: “The automotive industry is facing a historical chance. The upcoming years will redefine our understanding of mobility. Overcoming the safety challenges for truly automated driving cannot be mastered by a single OEM, Tier 1 or tech company.” The participating industry leaders discussed today’s top issues and how best to untie the knots that are currently blocking the AV landscape.

Disruptive vs. Traditional — A recipe for innovation?

Digitization, automation and new business models have revolutionized many industries, and the automotive industry is no exception. How can auto leaders prepare? Alejandro Vukotich, vice president of automotive product management at Qualcomm reinforced this sentiment stating, “We have innovative and disruptive companies in the space and we have traditional industries in the space. Each approach by itself is not taking us to where we have to be.” Jody Kelman, General Manager of Lyft Autonomous, said: “It’s less about incremental innovation versus disruptive innovation, it’s more about where along the value chain you need to think about bringing the end-consumer into the process sooner rather than later.” To achieve powerful value from collaboration there must be a constant feedback loop between OEMs and disruptors to guide innovation. Summing it up, "In the automotive industry, we need to collaborate on all domains of common interest,” said Reinhard Ploss, CEO of Infineon.

Certified Control with Safety Architectures 

Despite extraordinary efforts from many of the leading names in tech and automaking, widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles still requires greater confidence in their safety. Trust is a psychological aspect, as Simon Segars, CEO of ARM stated, but technology can help support safety perceptions. While there isn’t a silver bullet to guarantee safety, starting with a common system architecture that is fundamentally built with safety in mind is the best first step.

Stefan Poledna, CTO of TTTech Auto, described what a common architecture could look like: “Every system can fail, especially the very complex systems. We have to talk about a common system architecture. In essence this means redundancy. We need an architecture where every point of failure can be mitigated.”

The only way to manage any potential for failure is to build an autonomous vehicle with a safety design in mind right from the start. The Autonomous already established in June of this year a first Working Group entitled “Safety & Architecture”, bringing together car manufacturers, technology, and research leaders to work towards a safe system architecture for self-driving vehicles.

How regulation can leave space for innovation 

Today, licensing and testing standards in the U.S. are being developed at the state level, rather than nationally, which may lead to potentially dangerous inconsistencies. The panel on AV and regulation came to the same conclusion that regulators are moving in the field of tension between speed of regulation, legal certainty of regulation and space for innovation. According to Benedikt Wolfers from the law firm PSWP, this could be achieved “by implementing objectives and goals in a regulation but not defining how to reach them, which leaves the necessary space for innovation.” This is roughly how the first worldwide level 4 regulation is set up in Germany.

“Global collaboration is key to make safe autonomous evolution a reality”

The automotive industry is confronted with massive technological and legal complexities in the drive to bring safe, self-driving cars on the road. Collaboration is the answer and the insights shared during The Autonomous Main Event is further proof of how necessary it is for AV stakeholders to align on all issues to ensure safety. Georg Kopetz, CEO of TTTech Auto, captured the spirit of the event: “Global collaboration is key to make safe autonomous evolution a reality. There is vast experience and deep know-how in all of our companies, but we have to bring together this knowledge in a pre-competitive environment.”

The Autonomous initiative mobilizes the entire AV industry. Already counting on multiple partners, such as renowned OEMs, automotive suppliers, technology companies, academia and semiconductors, The Autonomous welcomes all stakeholders who share the same collaborative vision to join the growing ecosystem and actively solve the industry's biggest safety challenges.

About The Autonomous: Established in 2019, The Autonomous is the global community shaping the future of safe autonomous mobility. At the open platform’s annual Main Event chief executives and leading experts of the autonomous mobility ecosystem align on relevant safety subjects.

Concrete development partnerships on key topics of autonomous driving will result in safety reference solutions that lay the basis for upcoming safety standards, legislation and jurisdiction. In this regard, international Working Groups, open for participation by industry participants, focus on the aspects of architectures, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, sensor fusion and regulation. To learn more, visit:

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