When will AVs become reality? Answer: When Safety Science catches up.

Over the last 70 years, computing solutions have fundamentally shifted major parts of the world economy. The first wave optimized centralized G&A  functions through centralized computing (IBM, DEC, etc. ). The next wave optimized advertising and distribution through edge computing and the internet (Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, are good examples). Today, we are at the beginning of the next major disruptive cycle caused by computing. This cycle consists of embedded sensory devices (generally referred to as the Internet of Things), local intelligence systems (also known as machine learning), and global intelligence (broadly mentioned as cloud resources). Usually called AI/IoT, these three technologies have the potential to disruptively impact nearly every market segment where in-field sensing with computing can solve problems. Mining, agriculture, space operations, and of course autonomous vehicles, are examples of major markets which can enjoy the benefits of this technology. 

However, we will not be able to harness the benefits of this massive shift without the underlying science for validation. How do we know that these AI systems actually work? How do we validate that the functionality is robust under all conditions — both normal and extenuating? These questions become all the more important because the cost of failure is not just a dropped call, but potentially putting personal safety at risk.   

Given the importance of autonomous safety science, SAE International has invested in a trilogy of EDGE Research Reports which provide state-of-the-art and state-of-industry examinations of the most significant topics in this space. This trilogy is led by Dr. Rahul Razdan, who has extensive experience in electronics and validation in technology, and executive roles with multiple organizations. 

The first report, “Unsettled Technology Areas in Autonomous Vehicle Test and Validation,” explores the validation challenge by reviewing existing approaches, examining the effectiveness of those approaches, presenting critical techniques required to bring safe and effective solutions to market, discussing unsettled topics, and suggesting next steps for industry stakeholders to consider as they work to advance the Advanced Driving Systems (ADS) ecosystem. The reports' contributors include senior members from academia, automotive, semiconductors, Electronic Manufacturing Service (EMS), Electronic Design Automation (EDA), and insurance testing industries. The report also includes extensive databases of existing automotive proving grounds with current enablement for AV testing, database of simulation platforms with individualized focus, and over 160 technical references. The overall objective of this report is to be the one-stop referential source for anyone who would like to ramp-up quickly into the state-of-art and industry in AV validation.

The second report, ”Unsettled Topics Concerning Automated Driving Systems and the Transportation Ecosystem,” explores the broader $2T ecosystem surrounding the automobile. This ecosystem includes insurance, after-market services, automobile retail sales, automobile lending, energy suppliers (e.g., gas stations), medical services, advertising, lawyers, banking, public planners, and law enforcement. In this SAE EDGE™ Research Report, six senior industry leaders in the impacted ecosystems describe how AV technology can potentially reshape them, providing a mosaic of the massive infrastructure shifts which will be required to absorb AV technologies. Interestingly, the critical cog which determines the absorption rate is the progress in AV Validation technology — the subject of the first EDGE report mentioned above.

The third report, “Unsettled Topics Concerning Automated Driving Systems and the Development Ecosystem,” explores changes which will be required to the current well-honed, tiered supply and development chain in the automotive sector. Automobiles have been adding electronic content with drive-by-wire, infotainment, and Advanced Driver Assist System (ADAS) technology. However, with autonomous technology, the clear description of an AV would be “a super-computer on wheels.” The implication of this shift is the leading role taken by electronics hardware and software suppliers. The contributors to this report are senior executives from Test and Measurement, Semi-conductors, NOAA, Standardization bodies, EDA, and academia. Not surprisingly, the critical point for all the players is the progression of AV Validation technology and their intersection with that technology.  

Taken together, the three reports present a comprehensive view of the current state-of-art as well as state-of-industry from the perspective of the researchers, executives and policy makers who are living through this change.

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