The Autonomous is an industry alliance that brings together top executives as well as experts from the autonomous mobility ecosystem to align on relevant safety subjects. Ricky Hudi is the Chairman of The Autonomous. He has held positions at BWM and Audi, and is currently the Chairman of the Industry Advisory Board for HERE Technologies.
He has also founded his own company, Future Mobility Technologies.
On this week’s Mobility Moments, we talk to Hudi about the safety challenges of autonomous mobility.
What are The Autonomous’ main aims?
The purpose of The Autonomous is to tackle the biggest safety challenges within the autonomous driving industry. To achieve this, The Autonomous facilitates cooperation across the industry to work on global reference solutions for those safety challenges.
The resulting reference solutions will lay the basis for safety standardization and future series production. They will lay the basis for relevant standards and will facilitate the adoption of safe autonomous mobility on a global scale.
With the recent launch of the first Working Group on Safety and Architecture, The Autonomous started the joint process where international industry leaders and research institutes have come together to co-create recommended practices and concrete developments.
Why is collaboration so important for the development of autonomous transport?
The autonomous driving industry faces a historical chance. The upcoming years will change our understanding of mobility. A multitude of companies are working with vast resources on very promising technologies to make autonomous driving a reality.
But this task is highly complex and includes so-far unsolved technological challenges in fields such as system architectures, artificial intelligence, cyber security and sensor fusion. I think it’s commonly understood that no single company can solve these challenges by themselves.
By combining knowledge and experience in this way, we will be able to do the groundwork for the safest-possible technologies. The resulting best practices will benefit everyone involved: the industry that unites and saves vast development resources; standards bodies and regulators that can rely on best-in-class-solutions; and last but not least the end-consumers who may trust similar safety levels for autonomous driving – anywhere in the world.
What are the major hurdles for autonomous transport?
The industry has accumulated great knowledge in the highly automated driving field. We are expecting exciting functions that will become differentiators of choice for the end-consumer. While this will lead to competitive-relevant innovation in that area, we suggest a different approach for safety-related technology.
Safety challenges should be solved in pre‐competitive cooperation. Our cross‐industry collaboration approach aims to set the starting point for a change of mindset in the industry. Partnerships will help to overcome the hurdles of prevailing industry competition to jointly lay the basis for the safest-possible technology.
The Autonomous Working Groups will be working on fundamental safety topics that are not competitive relevant and will make the difference in terms of a unified global safety level.
What is your timeline for fully automated driving?
The next big step towards autonomous driving will follow as soon as the computer is fully in charge. This can happen for example in form of fully automated airport or city shuttles as well as a highway pilot that operate in a defined operational design domain (ODD), equally SAE level 4.
There are two major imperatives for a mass‐produced automated car of SAE Level 4: affordability and dependability.
With the first Working Group on safe system architectures, we are working to solve the fundamental question of how a dependable and also affordable mass‐produced vehicle can look like. Mass adoption of autonomous driving technology relies on collaborating and a common reference architecture.
We expect the results from the first Working Group in September, 2022. The publicly shared consolidated technical report will support knowledge transfer and give concrete guidance to the automotive industry for the future series production of safe autonomous vehicles.
How should the industry communicate the benefits of autonomous transport to the public?
Trust is a prerequisite for any business model based on autonomous mobility. Industry and media have to clarify the current status of development and the different SAE levels of automation in which the transition to autonomous driving will come. Showcasing the connected technology will help involve and convince the end-consumer.
Developing and implementing common global safety reference solutions will reliably support the acceptance and trust of the public in autonomous mobility. With a comparably high global safety level, the end-consumer will gain orientation in a fast-developing field where one can easily lose the overview. Alignment also on a common naming of autonomous systems, similar to ‘ABS’ and ‘airbag’, could support that perception of trust.
What will urban mobility look like by 2030?
As mentioned, the next step towards autonomous driving could be autonomous airport shuttles or a highway pilot and also first self-driving robotaxis in defined urban areas. Fully automated trucks on highways may also be one of the first autonomous driving use cases that we will see. But what is more important than an exact date: autonomous driving systems must be safe.
The development of ABS brakes needed almost 40 years to bring the system to series production. The first patent for a brake pressure regulator in 1928 still consisted of over 1,000 parts. This was reduced to 140 parts and implemented in a Jensen FF first in 1966.
When it comes to autonomous driving, we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of lines of code, so it’s a far more complex technology as part of the wider connected transition to the software-defined car.
Autonomous driving functions will come in the foreseeable future – sooner or later, but most importantly: it has to be as safe as possible.