The 2021 World Safety Summit on Autonomous Technology brought together leaders across industry, government, journalism, and academia to highlight autonomous technology and foster a greater understanding of its contributions to safety.
Christina Aizcorbe, Vice President of Government Affairs at Velodyne Lidar kicked off the event with opening remarks that discussed how the core values that autonomous technology serves – safety, efficiency, and sustainability – are interrelated.
Christina reviewed how disruptions across transportation, the supply chain and our workforce due to COVID-19 demonstrate the clear need for autonomous technologies that can support safety, economic security and access to critical services. She noted how the historic roadway fatality rates we are seeing today can be mitigated by technologies like lidar, which can increase safety and equity for vulnerable populations when used in vehicle safety systems and intelligent infrastructure.
“Autonomous technologies are being used today to take humans out of harm’s way, including dangerous or inaccessible environments, disaster recovery, and emergency response. Automation works in service of safety, efficiency, and sustainability; core community values which should not be merely prioritized,” said Christina.
The summit featured two keynote sessions, including a fireside chat with Dr. Mark Rosekind, Chief Safety Innovation Officer, Zoox, and an address by James Owens, Head of Regulatory, Nuro. Both speakers are renowned leaders on how to realize the vision of autonomous solutions to achieve safety, sustainability and efficiency.
The first panel, sponsored by PAVE, focused on autonomous vehicles and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and their tremendous potential for roadway safety. It reviewed how a fully self-driving car has to have same mental model of the world as a human, which is an enormous AI challenge. The panel discussed the need to have an approach that breaks down complex problems into solvable pieces, and define a safety case framework with safety by design as well as fundamental safety culture.
The next panel, sponsored by ITSA, looked at transportation systems – like Velodyne’s Intelligent Infrastructure Solution – and how they can improve safety by helping protect vulnerable road users like pedestrians. These systems can help cities move towards a Vision Zero goal, which seeks to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries on community streets. They can also contribute to more sustainable communities by cutting traffic congestion to reduce pollution and making roadways more efficient.
The third panel, sponsored by AUVSI, focused on how autonomous technology is revising the safety landscape for humans through advanced robotics that can work in locations that are inaccessible or too dangerous for people to enter. Technology, such as lidar, is increasing the safety of our workforce and the public every day. For instance, using lidar to create digital twins can provide a valuable learning tool to improve safety and efficiency in a virtual environment.
Sinclair Vass, Velodyne’s Chief Commercial Officer, closed the summit with these thoughts:
“The lidar industry is maturing fast, and our products and services are already making the world a safer, more efficient and more sustainable place to live. I’m really looking forward to seeing these new applications emerge and move from R&D phase into serial production. If we can develop the right products at the right quality and price points, there is no reason that lidar cannot become as ubiquitous as cameras are today and achieve Vision Zero.”