With the second annual World Safety Summit on Autonomous Technology approaching, Gene Roe, Managing Editor of Lidar News, connected with Velodyne Lidar President and CBDO Marta Hall to learn about the event’s agenda, including keynote speakers and panel sessions. The discussion included how the summit looks to increase understanding of autonomous vehicle technology and its potential for safety benefits. During the interview, Marta and Gene also reviewed Velodyne Lidar’s history and the markets it serves, Velodyne’s MADD relationship, the company’s stance on industry standards and more.
Could we start with a brief history of Velodyne Lidar and your involvement with the growth of the company?
“Our Founder and CEO David Hall, who participated in early DARPA Challenge events, is recognized as the inventor of automotive lidar. Our company began commercial production of the 3D lidar sensor, the VLP64, in 2007.
“I have been involved in our lidar business since its infancy and the Urban Grand Challenge when the winning teams used David’s lidar invention to navigate a mock city. Early on, Velodyne sold lidar to mapping companies, universities, and tech companies who had an interest in autonomy. Google and Caterpillar were early customers. Caterpillar was interested in driver safety; mounting lidar on three story mining trucks to watch out for obstacles and wildlife on the road. Google continued autonomous research with early purchases, with plans to grow a fleet of autonomous cars.
“I have helped build and manage business at Velodyne, guiding our Marketing effort and Business Development. I oversee the branding of Velodyne which has evolved to be more creative, sophisticated, and very focused on safety. Over the years, we achieved many company milestones because of dedication, continuous innovation, and hard work. We have built an exceptional, strong business team.”
As a world leader in the development of lidar technology for mobile applications can you highlight some of the leading products and markets that Velodyne Lidar serves?
“We serve more than 250 customers globally in a wide variety of markets, including automotive, mapping, robotics, smart cities, security, UAVs, delivery, and more. Included in our state-of-the-art sensor portfolio is the Velodyne Alpha Puck™, a lidar sensor specifically made for autonomous driving and advanced vehicle safety at highway speeds, and the directional view Velodyne Velarray™, an integral component for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Velodyne’s lidar sensors deliver an industry-leading combination of long range, high resolution, and wide field of view.
“Regarding markets, Velodyne sensors are a central component of autonomous vehicles and ADAS. In these markets, we are focused on our ‘LIVE’ – Lidar in Vehicles Everywhere – initiative. Our goal is to design, develop, and mass-produce lower cost lidar sold for every model of car and truck. We plan to mass manufacture lidar so we can get the cost down and while keeping the quality high. We would like to see lidar in every vehicle, not just high-end vehicles, for the sake of safety.”
Last year Velodyne Lidar hosted the inaugural World Safety Summit on Autonomous Technology. Can you explain what Velodyne wanted to accomplish by hosting this event?
“The goal of the first World Safety Summit was to bring together business, government, public safety, and community leaders to explore the use of autonomous vehicle technology in a global effort to increase roadway safety. And the event was a major success. It provided a forum for frank discussions about the roll out of autonomous vehicles and how to educate the public and provide needed transparency about the technology. The topic of regulation and best practices were important in the conversation. Our goal was to provide a platform to increase understanding of technology, along with the great potential for safety benefits. It was a chance to come together on the goal of reducing the damage done by vehicle crashes caused by human error.”
“We have another great agenda in place for the upcoming World Safety Summit. It includes keynotes from Dr. Lawrence Burns, a longtime visionary, technical expert in the automotive industry, Chris Urmson, Co-founder and CEO at Aurora, and Mark Rosekind, Chief Safety Innovation Officer at Zoox. The summit also will include several panel sessions that will examine topics such as the AV testing process, how to address confusing terminology and false claims related to vehicle autonomy and safety, education and public engagement, and cybersecurity.
“One more thing your readers should know. Last year, more than 250 people attended the summit. While there is more room this year, space is still limited so people interested in attending should sign up now.”
Velodyne Lidar and MADD have an important, ongoing relationship. Can you tell us how that developed and how each group is benefitting from the relationship?
“We are honored to be a partner with MADD. Our relationship was formed from a shared vision that autonomous vehicle technology holds extraordinary potential in helping to eliminate drunk driving and save lives on our roadways. Both MADD and Velodyne are committed to educating the public on the safety benefits of autonomous vehicle technology. We welcome their involvement in the upcoming World Safety Summit. MADD is an important voice to involve in advocating autonomous vehicle technology and the benefits it will bring in safety.”
Where does Velodyne Lidar stand on the issue of standards for the autonomous vehicle industry?
“Velodyne has been a strong promoter that the autonomous vehicle community needs to work together in a non-competitive way to identify requirements and methods for lidar sensor testing and validation. This step is essential to ensure the safe launch of autonomous vehicles. Today, there is too much misleading information about the precision, accuracy, and range of lidar sensors. To be of greatest value to automakers, all lidar sensors need to be assessed by the same gauge. Lidar companies must be advocates of the autonomous vehicle safety message by promoting transparency.”
Finally, looking to the future, what will urban travel look like in 2030?
“It is safe to say urban travel in 2030 will look very different from today! For instance, Velodyne lidar sensors are being used now in development and trial programs by automakers and other mobility companies as they ready new autonomous solutions for our roadways. In manufacturing, our sensors are moving into the mass production stage with the goal to produce lidar in the millions of units. These and other activities are happening now at a global level. They point to that we are headed to a mobility revolution. Our goal is to achieve LIVE, Lidar in Vehicles Everywhere, so by 2030 there should be much fewer fatalities and less injury on the roadway! Members of MADD will be satisfied by then that their goal of no more drunken drivers was realized. Buckle up and get ready for an exhilarating ride into a better and safer future!”
Learn more about The World Safety Summit & RSVP HERE.