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AutoSensONLINE: Free Virtual Conference to Connect Engineering Community During COVID-19

This article originally appeared on AutoVision News. It has been republished with permission.

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing the postponement of AutoSens Detroit, organizers have launched a series of free virtual conferences to keep the engineering community connected during this uncertain time. AutoSensONLINE will take place over seven days throughout May, June, and July, with each event carrying a different technical theme. For the May online event, which begins on Tuesday, the discussions and presentations focus on the changing dynamics of ADAS and autonomous vehicle development. 

“The world has changed a lot over the last few months, and we are fully embracing that via AutoSensONLINE,” explained Robert Stead, Managing Director of AutoSens. “The May agenda will address some specific questions the market has right now, like what is the impact of COVID-19 on ADAS research, and on the automotive sector in general.” 

What Is AutoSens?

AutoSens is a three-day workshop, conference, and exhibition focused on the challenges facing autonomous cars at nearly every level. Under normal circumstances, organizers host thee yearly events for the engineering and ADAS community: one in Brussels, another in Detroit, and now Hong Kong. The primary goal of AutoSens is to gather engineers, researchers, and other industry professionals under one roof to examine the full scope of automated driving.

“We have taken some of the elements that work well at our physical events, and built an agenda around the plenary topics for this first May online event,” Stead said. “One of our core principles is always to deliver high-quality technical content and add value to the engineering community, and that doesn’t change with AutoSensONLINE.” 

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AutoSens Detroit attendees prepare for a self-driving vehicle demo on the campus of Wayne State University in May 2018. Photo: Alex Hartman for Sense Media.

AutoSensONLINE Agenda for May  

AutoSensONLINE for May begins this Tuesday, May 12th, and runs through the 14th. Live streaming starts each day at 2:45 pm GMT +1, or 9:45 am Eastern. “We have tweaked the format, so the presentations are a little shorter as we don’t expect everyone to spend a whole day at their screen,” Stead explained. “We’ll still have Q&A with all the speakers, and they will be online participating with the audience during the event.”

First up on Tuesday is Professor Dr. Alexander Braun, a Professor of Physics from the University of Applied Sciences in Duesseldorf, Germany. Dr. Braun’s presentation will cover the challenges facing the mass production of ADAS systems. “The current research in ADAS/AD is often focused on finding ONE solution to a certain problem, like object detection, sensor fusion, path planning, etc.,” Dr. Braun writes. “Once a solution is found, the real challenge enters: mass production of these systems for everyday use on real roads.”

The presentation will also focus on how to balance the many variables in play. “The key is finding the operating limits of the systems under production tolerances and in correlation with all the many variations the real world has to offer,” Dr. Bruan continued. “We’ll also touch on the far-reaching implications of these questions for the whole supply chain.” 

Rudy Burger, Managing Partner of Woodside Capital Partners, will begin the Wednesday session of AutoSensONLINE. Burger will give an update on the latest M&A and venture capital activities. “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.”

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Challenges go Under the Microscope

Burger will join a panel discussion on the impacts of COVID-19 immediately after his M&A session on Wednesday. Joining him are Pierre Cambou, Principal Analyst, Yole Développement, and Puneet Sinha, Director of New Mobility for the Mechanical Analysis Division of Mentor, a Siemens business. Moderating the panel is Bill Russo, Founder and CEO of Automobility Ltd.

On Thursday, Howard Abbey, Autonomous Car Specialist with SBD Automotive, will present on how consumers can understand the differences between assisted and autonomous driving. “I look greatly forward to reconnecting with the AutoSens community and continuing the tradition of bringing together technical details of advanced perception and their automotive applications,” Abbey said.

Also on Thursday is a panel discussion about managing data ethically and per government policy. Panelists include Bryant Walker Smith, associate professor in the School of Law and (by courtesy) the School of Engineering at the University of South Carolina; Xantha Bruso, Policy Manager on the Autonomous Vehicle Strategy team at A3 Ventures, the innovation lab of AAA Northern California, Nevada, and Utah; and Dr. Stephen Zoepf, Chief of Policy Development, Lacuna.

Moderating the panel is attorney Gail Gottehrer, founder of the Law Office of Gail Gottehrer LLC.

“What data to collect and how to manage it is one of the major areas where we are venturing, as an industry, into uncharted territory,” Stead explained. “The potential risk to society from not managing safety during the testing and roll-out of high-level ADAS and autonomous vehicles is significant, so it’s important we take every opportunity to make sure regulators and industry are joining up in their thinking.”

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How to Attend AutoSensONLINE 

The AutoSensONLINE events for May, June, and July are entirely free. “We felt that in these uncertain times, this was the best way we could support our engineering community,” Stead said. 

Those who wish to attend can sign up on the AutoSens website. The one-time registration is for all three AutoSens online events. While the June and July online agendas are still being developed, a full list of Tuesday’s speakers is available now.  

As for the in-person conferences, organizers say if social distancing guidelines are lifted, AutoSens Brussels will commence in September, with the Detroit event following in November and Hong Kong in 2021. In the meantime, the online conferences give the engineers working on ADAS technology a chance to connect from afar.  

 “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, be it in-person or online.”