Velodyne Lidar, along with lidar companies Aeye, Cepton, Continental, Innoviz, Ouster and Quanergy, recently announced formation of the Lidar Coalition. The Coalition is the first collective initiative of the industry to advocate for lidar technology and the advancements it is bringing safety, sustainability and equity across the transportation system.
Sensing a need for broader education about lidar, particularly given its growth across intelligent infrastructure and vehicle safety systems, Velodyne initiated the effort to come together as an industry to speak on behalf of this critical technology. Christina Aizcorbe, Vice President of Government Affairs, notes, “Formation of a coalition signals maturity of the lidar industry and a recognition that policies must be grounded in facts and data. This is particularly important when it comes to newer technologies that may not yet be contemplated in our laws and regulations, many of which were written well before the technology existed.”
Last week, the Coalition held its first Lidar Policy Summit, where it met with regulators, policymakers and transportation professionals in Washington, D.C. to discuss how lidar is being used in automotive and trucking safety systems and intelligent infrastructure deployments.
Among the summit participants were Congressman Peter DeFazio, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Egan Smith, Managing Director of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office. The event included panels on how vehicle technology can help to make our roadways safer and more equitable, and how lidar technology fits into a safe systems approach to transportation safety.
Additionally, the Coalition travelled to Capitol Hill to meet with key policy staff on the Senate Commerce Committee, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee to discuss the current state of roadway safety. The Coalition also shared insight on how lidar technology solutions can help reduce the pressing problem of rising motor vehicle fatalities.
The timing of the Coalition’s inaugural Lidar Policy Summit is notable given the announcement by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that 2021 saw the highest number of fatalities since 2005. Last year, our nation experienced the largest percentage increase since the Agency began collecting motor vehicle fatality and injury data. Pedestrian and nighttime fatalities both saw significant increases from 2020 – 13 and 11 percent, respectively.
“Because lidar uses its own light source and can ‘see’ at night – a time when there is the greatest risk for fatalities – it holds tremendous potential to address road safety challenges,” states Christina. “With vehicle safety advancements like lidar-enabled pedestrian automatic emergency braking and the historic investment we are seeing under new infrastructure programs, speaking with one voice to educate policymakers and the public about this technology couldn’t be more important.”
To help make our roadways safer, on May 16, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced $1 billion in competitive grants for “Vision Zero” plans to drive roadway fatalities to zero. The Department will also administer a grant program to fund intelligent sensor-based transportation infrastructure upgrades, expected for release later this year.
We welcome collaborating with federal, state and local government agencies in their programs to drive traffic fatalities to zero. Our Intelligent Infrastructure Solution enables communities to adopt a proactive approach to safety by offering real-time multimodal safety analysis of all road users, including the most vulnerable like cyclists and pedestrians. Our deployments are helping communities understand root causes of near-miss collisions, red light running and different types of road user behavior.
Velodyne and the Lidar Coalition will continue to serve as leading voices for lidar on policies and programs increasing safety to our communities.