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AutoSens Detroit 2020: Top Autonomous Driving Conference Returns To The U.S.


Update: 3-18-2020: AutoSens Detroit postponed until November amid Coronavirus outbreak.


Organizers for AutoSens Detroit are gearing up for their most expansive North American event to date. AutoSens is a three-day workshop, conference, and exhibition focused on the challenges facing autonomous cars at nearly every level, from the supply chain to research and development. With yearly events in Brussels, Detroit and now Hong Kong, AutoSens gathers engineers, researchers, and other industry professionals under one roof to examine the full scope of automated driving.

“The discussions at the conference revolve around numerous vehicle perception technologies,” explained Robert Stead, Managing Director, Sense Media Group, the parent company of AutoSens. “By this we mean the sensors, cables, processors, and other hardware and software that give a vehicle’s computer a picture of its environment. We also cover the wider issues, which might include the regulatory, financial, or legal context for the development of vehicle perception systems.”

AutoSens Detroit returns to the Michigan Science Center beginning on May 12th. Here is a look at this year’s agenda in the Motor City.

In Pursuit of Good Science

Organizers structure AutoSens as a learning experience for engineers and other automotive professionals. The academic and technical aspects remain at the forefront, with the upcoming Detroit conference offering a number of different sessions, forums, in-depth tutorials, and a healthy showcase of cutting-edge automotive technology. Stead says AutoSens is the place where engineers can “take off the boxing gloves” as they examine the technical hurdles facing autonomous cars.

“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,” Stead continued. “But there is still a long way to go before people all over the world are riding to work or to see family in an autonomous vehicle. 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.”

AutoSens Detroit will feature an additional technical track this year centered on deep learning, sensor fusion, and validation and calibration among other things. Attendees will also see new developments concerning in-cabin monitoring, radar, LiDAR, and a number of other image sensing technologies.

“AutoSens attendees are the actual engineers who are building the systems that will make it all possible,” Stead said. “You’ll find the attendees, even if they are doing research on a niche technical area, will be very open to explain what it’s all about.”

An exhibitor prepares a demonstration before the start of AutoSens Brussels.
An exhibitor prepares a demonstration before the start of AutoSens Brussels. Photo: Sense Media.

AutoSens Detroit 2020: Expert Speakers

The program for May includes four keynote sessions and over 60 expert speakers, each lending their expertise and experience on a wide range of topics. “We record all the presentations as well, so they are available for attendees afterwards,” Stead said. “We always want a high quality of technical presentations at AutoSens every year, so all attendees will go back to their office or lab with some new solutions, food for thought, or novel information.”

Among the speakers are Puneet Sinha, Director of New Mobility for Siemens Digital Industries Software, the lead sponsor of AutoSens Detroit 2020. Sinha will speak on the challenges within the supply chain for autonomous vehicles. Dr. Ray Ptucha, Associate Professor and Director of the Machine Intelligence Lab at the Rochester Institute of Technology, will discuss how deep learning relates to autonomy. Alexander Schaab, Vice President of Autonomous Driving at Mercedes-Benz R&D, will address the path from Level 2 to Level 5 autonomy.

Back by popular demand is longtime AutoSens presenter Rudy Burger, Managing Partner of Woodside Capital Partners. Burger will give an update on the latest M&A and venture capital activities as they concern autonomous driving. “We’re seeing capital now getting invested in smaller and smaller companies as the market and investors decide who the winners and losers are going to be,” Burger said on stage at AutoSens Brussels in September. “It’s fascinating to see how the amount of capital a company raises, and who they raise it from, can have a significant impact on if they become a market winner.”

Rudy Burger of Woodside Capital Partners moderates a panel discussion at AutoSens Brussels. Burger will be speaking at AutoSens Detroit 2020.
Rudy Burger of Woodside Capital Partners moderates a panel discussion at AutoSens Brussels. Photo: Sense Media.

An Emphasis On Cybersecurity

One of the highlights at AutoSens Detroit this year is a plenary session on the importance of cybersecurity. Experts on the panel include Kristie Pfosi, Automotive Cybersecurity Senior Manager, Mitsubishi; Cassie Clark, Senior Security Awareness Program Manager, Cruise; and Vicki Kamenova, Partner & Cybersecurity Leader, EY Americas. The panel is moderated by Jennifer Tisdale, Associate Principal, Embedded Systems & Advanced Transportation Security, GRIMM.

“Cybersecurity is different than safety because we cannot guarantee it’s going to be a forever fix, especially with automotive,” Tisdale said. “There is always going to be another vulnerability and we need to be vigilant. The challenge is getting the literal buy-in. We need the budget from senior leadership to invest in the testing so we can better develop the tools to ensure security.”

Other plenary sessions in Detroit will focus on how China will play a role in autonomous vehicle technology, and how those in the industry can promote innovation through regulation and public safety initiatives. Additional sessions will address high level views on how far the industry is, scientifically and realistically, from fully autonomous cars.

“Presentations will focus on identification of the flaws and shortcomings in current technological solutions, encouraging the audience and industry to engage in a discussion of what these remaining challenges are,” Stead said.

Attendees sit in during one of the many technical presentations at AutoSens Detroit. The conference returns to the Michigan Science Center beginning on May 12th.
Attendees sit in during one of the many technical presentations at AutoSens Detroit. The conference returns to the Michigan Science Center beginning on May 12th. Photo: Alex Hartman for Sense Media.

New Thought Leaders Descend On Detroit

50 plus exhibitors, including those new to the conference, will be on hand for AutoSens Detroit to showcase their technology and innovations. Pony.ai is attending for the first time to discuss new trends in image processing and camera effectiveness for automotive applications. Also new to AutoSens is Zoox, who will be talking about functional and active safety alongside MSC Software, FCA, and Zenuity. To provide context on the current performance of pedestrian detection systems, AAA will present findings from their large body of research.

“AutoSens exhibitors offer tremendous insight into what is happening at the ground level in this industry,” explained Carl Anthony, Automoblog’s Managing Editor and host of AutoSens TV. “They are developing, designing, and testing the very products and solutions that will make autonomous driving a reality one day.”

“AutoSens is great because it’s small enough so you actually get to know people,” said Junko Yoshida, Global Co-Editor-in-Chief, EE Times. “It goes beyond exchanging business cards; you actually get to talk and exchange ideas.”

 Dataspeed Founder Paul Fleck (black shirt, jacket, middle) talks with AutoSens Detroit attendees in May 2018. Dataspeed showcased the company’s ADAS Kit which helps engineers maximize their development of autonomous systems in the field.
Dataspeed Founder Paul Fleck (black shirt, jacket, middle) talks with AutoSens Detroit attendees in May 2018. Dataspeed showcased the company’s ADAS Kit which helps engineers maximize their development of autonomous systems in the field. Fleck, an engineer himself, lost a loved one in an auto accident. The experience led him to develop technology he believes will save lives. Photo: Alex Hartman for Sense Media.

Tickets, Location & More Information

AutoSens Detroit 2020 begins on Tuesday, May 12th at the Michigan Science Center and runs through the 14th. One thing we recommend are the track demos, a signature of every AutoSens Detroit conference. This year, they begin on that Tuesday, May 12th, and run from 3pm onward. The track demos give attendees the chance to see and experience a number of different vehicle perception technologies firsthand.

The full agenda for this year can be found here, along with the full list of speakers. Tickets, including discount packages for females in the engineering community, are available now.

“The vision has always been about community,” Stead added. “Conversations and collaborations are what drives the success of AutoSens, and will be the signature ingredient at all our events for years to come.”

The Automoblog staff covers automotive industry news, trends, and technology along with new vehicle releases. Automoblog is owned and operated by Gearhead Media LLC., based in Detroit, Michigan and Berlin, Germany. 

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