SAE Demo Day captures public perception of autonomous vehicles

With the goal of gaining insight into the public’s perception of self-driving technology, SAE International on Dec. 12-14 hosted its second “SAE Demo Day” at Babcock Ranch, a master planned community in Southwest Florida designed with sustainability in mind.

The event gave community members a chance to ride in a fully automated Range Rover provided by Perrone Robotics. All riders were asked to complete a questionnaire before the demo as well as a post-ride survey on their experience. By learning about riders’ comfort level with autonomous vehicles, SAE International will use this data to identify ways to improve public education and understanding of self-driving vehicles.

“Proper testing of autonomous technology is crucial to the success of self-driving vehicles. And the public’s acceptance and comfort is key to that testing,” SAE International Chief Product Officer Frank Menchaca said. “SAE International serves as a convener, working with technology companies, auto manufacturers and government to safely advance autonomous vehicle development. This Demo Day brings the most important audience to the dialogue, the public.”

The event was held in collaboration with Florida Sen. Jeff Brandes and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and attendees experienced interactive displays from partners Velodyne LiDAR, Lime, AAA and Transdev.

In addition to the self-driving demonstration, SAE International unveiled an updated visual chart for its Levels of Automation standard, “J3016: Taxonomy and Definitions for Terms Related to Driving Automation Systems for On-Road Motor Vehicles.” J3016 provides and defines the six levels of driving automation, from no automation to full automation. Consistent with industry practices, the standard helps to eliminate confusion by providing clarity and is frequently cited and referred to by industry and media. It was adopted by the U.S. Department of Transportation for use in its “Federal Automated Vehicles Policy.”

Perrone Robotics has been developing autonomy solutions since 2003 and created the first general-purpose robotics software platform for autonomous vehicles and robots, dubbed MAX. “As a company that offers autonomous technology and transportation, we need to understand how the public perceives autonomy,” said Dave Hofert, Chief Marketing Officer of Perrone Robotics. “We appreciate and support SAE’s effort to collect data from a wide cross-section of society so that we can ensure that all passengers feel safe, in control, and free to enjoy the ride.”

The inaugural SAE Demo Day was held May 9- 11, 2018, on a specially cordoned section of Tampa’s Lee Roy Selmon Expressway.

“I am excited that SAE International is continuing to bring this self-driving ‘hands-off’ demo across Florida,” said Brandes, who was on site for both events and intends to modernize Florida’s transportation infrastructure through the use of innovative technology. “We had a wonderful experience in Tampa. Now, the residents and future residents of Babcock Ranch are able to experience this technology and provide feedback for what they want to see in their community as we move toward a shared, electric, and autonomous future.”

Located just north of Fort Myers, Babcock Ranch features the largest solar-plus-storage system operating in the U.S. today, as well as water-conservation measures, energy-efficient buildings, community gardens and electric-powered self-driving shuttles.

“At Babcock Ranch we’ve been preparing for the future of transportation from day one, which makes it the perfect location for this event,” said Syd Kitson, Chairman and C.E.O. of Kitson & Partners.  “With autonomous shuttles already in operation for more than a year, Babcock Ranch is serving as a living laboratory for cutting-edge technologies that will completely transform the way we all live."

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