AutoSens Announces Detroit Conference, Organizers Focused On Collaboration

AutoSens, a global summit on automated driving and vehicle perception technology, is returning to Detroit, Michigan in May 2018. AutoSens Detroit is one of two events on the topic held yearly by parent company Sense Media, which successfully concluded AutoSens Brussels in September. Inside the city’s famed Autoworld Museum, over 450 senior level researchers, engineers, and other experts gathered to identify the challenges and opportunities surrounding future mobility. Attendees, speakers, and sponsors were encouraged to leverage each other’s expertise.

AutoSens is built on the visions these professionals share on vehicle perception technology, ADAS systems, and autonomous driving. Like in Brussels, AutoSens Detroit will examine OEM requirements for developing these systems by providing arenas for engagement, idea sharing, and collaboration.

“These conversations and collaborations are what drives the success of AutoSens, and will be the signature ingredient at all our events for years to come,” said Robert Stead, Managing Director, Sense Media. “The AutoSens vision has always been about community.”

Central Theme

Autonomous driving may one day deliver a world where no single person is lost in a traffic accident. The automated cars themselves will likely run on battery or electric powertains, reducing emissions. Proponents even say our cities and infrastructure will benefit from autonomous cars. Yet, in order for such things to be realized, those working on the technology need a place to gather and collaborate.

“With a willingness to pool resources and learn from your peers, problems can be solved faster and in a more robust manner,” Stead said.

AutoSens is building itself into a similar version of what Volvo did following the introduction of the three-point seat belt in 1959. Stating it was in line with Volvo’s commitments, the automaker released the device in the interest of public safety and social responsibility. The three-point seat belt was now something every automaker could adopt as their own. Volvo estimates that Nils Bohlin, the engineer who created it, has saved over a million lives by doing so. Although AutoSens isn’t inventing revolutionary technology per se, they are providing a landscape in which the next three-point seat belt can emerge.

“Commercial competition is a driver for technology development, but when we are talking about safety-related systems and technologies that need to interact across boundaries of a certain brand or manufacturer, we have to put collaboration at the top of the priority list,” Stead explained. “We provide a platform for sharing the latest thinking, gathering feedback and input from peers, enabling engineers to connect with other technical experts in their fields, and meeting new people and organizations.”

Stead is the Chair of the IEEE-SA P2020 working group, a cross-industry initiative where over 100 companies are developing benchmarks for image quality in automotive camera systems. The end goal is to enhance vehicle vision systems and make cars safer. The working group blossomed from the relationships made at AutoSens, and within a year, group members Bosch and Valeo already have several new bodies of research. That research will be presented at the Electronic Imaging Symposium in San Francisco, California next month.

“But collaboration doesn’t even need to be as formalized as that,” Stead insisted. “I’m often told what’s different about AutoSens is the openness and willingness to discuss topics among the engineers attending. Proprietary information remains so, of course, but there are so many issues, challenges, and technical bottlenecks that are in the public domain, but still haven’t been solved by the industry.”

AutoSens Brussels attendees chat during a brief coffee break. There are numerous opportunities to network during the duration of the conference. Photo: Sense Media, © Bernal Revert/BR&U.

Challenges & Opportunities

The panels of expert speakers, each with their own diverse backgrounds, qualifications, and experience, remains an AutoSens hallmark. Speakers often use their time to define the challenges and opportunities in automated driving. Some go in-depth about the engineering and design requirements for the autonomous car; others examine the financial realm or what driverless cars mean for society as a whole. For example, in Brussels in September, Dr. Heiko Hirschmuller, Co-Founder of Roboception, spoke on how robotics and remote sensing play into autonomous driving, while Erich Ramschak, Senior Product Manager ADAS Engineering, AVL List, talked about the importance of map data in autonomous driving. Rudy Burger, Managing Partner, Woodside Capital Partners, spoke on automotive mergers and acquisitions, while Alain Dunoyer, Head of Safe Car, SBD Automotive, examined the impacts of the autonomous car on traffic.

“There has been and continues to be some truly amazing research done and technology implemented in the field of vehicle perception,” Stead said. “The latest autonomous vehicles have a truly futuristic level of functionality, and some of the greatest engineering minds in the world are working on these topics to improve and augment ADAS capabilities.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing these engineering minds is how to make the autonomous car function effectively in the everyday world. Taking the autonomous car, piece by piece, no one component is more important than the other, and each must be designed and engineered to meet the demands of autonomy. Taking a human out of the equation presents an entirely different ball game; the picture of how we get around alters drastically, and all of the variables seem almost impossible to account for.

“The technical challenges are immense – dealing with edge case road scenarios, adverse weather conditions, interactions with human pedestrians and drivers, addressing motion sickness, and a host of other challenges,” Stead said. “Having seen the passion and expertise of the community working to solve these problems, I truly believe they will all be overcome, but it will keep us all in gainful employment for a good few years to come.”

During AutoSens Brussels, Senior Applications Engineer Edel Cashman (right) from SensL Technologies demonstrates how the company’s sensors can be utilized for LiDAR applications. Photo: Sense Media, © Bernal Revert/BR&U.

Dates & Location

AutoSens Detroit will happen May 14th through the 17th at the the Michigan Science Center near the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The Michigan Science Center’s mission is to inspire curious minds of all ages to discover, explore, and appreciate science, technology, engineering, and math. AutoSens organizers say this mission aligns with their vision for the automotive engineering community. The facility is home to the Chrysler IMAX Dome Theatre, the Dassault Systèmes Planetarium, and over 250 hands-on exhibits and lab activities.

Tickets are available now for a special, early bird price through February. Expect the full schedule of events for AutoSens Detroit in the coming months.

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. 

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