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Driverless future revealed at upcoming conference

February 25, 2016  - By

May flip transportation industry more than Henry Ford did

The future rollout of the autonomous vehicle will disrupt transportation in way not seen since the automobile’s introduction. A new conference, Driverless, March 22-23 at the Crown Plaza Hotel-San Francisco Airport will explore future autonomous vehicle markets and policy; outline technological and cultural challenges; detail legal, cyber and privacy issues; and assess the investment opportunity in this potentially game-changing technology.

Silicon Valley — not traditionally an automotive center — is the new autonomous driving hotspot, as computer and software firms rapidly develop solutions and prototypes. Teaming with established automakers, new ventures and established Silicon Valley giants alike are testing systems worldwide for both passenger cars and commercial fleets. The Driverless conference takes advantage of its proximity to the computing capital to draw influential speakers and knowledgeable, motivated attendees in a high-level gathering.

Headshot: Alain Kornhauser

Headshot: Alain Kornhauser

In the future panel, titled “The Way Ahead: The Road to Autonomous Driving,” industry experts assess the technological challenges facing full-blown autonomous driving. Who leads the effort to reduce component prices? What is the single most important decision that will unleash for ubiquitous rollout?

Panel members include: Adrian Pearmine, National Director for Smart Cities and Connected Vehicles, DKS Associates; Alain Kornhauser, Professor, Operations Research & Financial Engineering, Director, Transportation Program, Princeton University; Grant Mahler, Advanced Technology Engineer, BMW Group; Mike Jellen, President and COO, Velodyne; and Randall Iwasaki, Executive Director, Contra Costa Transportation Authority

Headshot: Alain Kornhauser

Headshot: Alain Kornhauser

Kornhauser recently stated that autonomous vehicles will, like Ford’s Model T nearly a century ago, disrupt transportation. “Other disruptive technologies include intermodal container shipping, personal rapid transit, the rise of intelligent transportation systems and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Challenge 10 years ago that flipped the industry from automated highways to the automated vehicle,” he said at the Transportation Research Board annual meeting. “It may flip the transportation industry more than Henry Ford did.”

Headshot: Mike Jellen

Headshot: Mike Jellen

BMW, with its longstanding interest is assisted driving (see 2007 GPS World article, Pass/No Pass, is also a leader in autonomous driving. BMW Group, consisting of BMW, Rolls Royce, MINI and BMW Motorrad, recently powered the first self-driving car in China. Baidu, “the Chinese Google,” announced in December that its autonomous car successfully navigated a complicated route through Beijing. According to the company, the modified BMW 3-Series drove an 18.6-mile route around the capital city that included side streets as well as highways. The car made left, right, and u-turns, changed lanes, passed other cars, and merged onto and off the highway.

A Mapping Panel at the Driverless conference will feature HERE and San Francisco-based Civil Maps. Maps will be integral to any company’s strategy to introduce autonomous vehicles to the roadway.

Headshot: Randall Iwasaki

Headshot: Randall Iwasaki

HERE recently unveiled its HD Live Map, an advanced cloud-based map asset. Ready to be deployed in connected vehicles in North America and Western Europe, HD Live Map creates a highly detailed and dynamic representation of the road environment, enabling a vehicle to effectively “see around corners” beyond the reach of its on-board sensors.

In 2015’s largest location-industry deal, three German luxury auto manufacturers, Audi, BMW and Daimler, purchased HERE for $2.8 billion from Nokia.

Civil Maps launched its lidar to GIS online platform at last year’s Esri User Conference. The software extracts and classifies features from 3D laser scans for export to popular GIS software. By leveraging proprietary artificial intelligence graph search powered by a supercomputer, Civil Maps says that its approach reduces turnaround times by 75 percent and yields more accurate maps than human-based processing, providing a streamlined approach to asset management and planning.

Other panels at the Driverless conference focus on:

  • Why Are Autonomous Vehicles Hot?
  • The Autonomous Vehicle Investment
  • Autonomous Vehicle Project Updates
  • Driverless Product Liability, Cyber Security and Privacy Issues

Driverless Conference Schedule. The full-day program on Wednesday, March 23, will feature 30 speakers from BMW Group, Peloton, USAA, Farmers Insurance, Velodyne, HERE and many others. The conference begins with an early evening reception on March 22, and ends with a similar reception on the 23rd, featuring exhibits from top companies.

Register here to attend. Driverless will be held at the Crown Plaza Hotel-San Francisco Airport, which has some of the lowest hotel rates in the Bay Area. Registration and hotel reservation rates go up March 9.

Sponsorships and displays are still available. Contact Global Technology Communications, (303) 369-3230, or email

1 Comment on "Driverless future revealed at upcoming conference"

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  1. Wiliam K. says:

    One question that needs an answer is about the “undo option” for the whole thing. As with all experimental changes that may possibly have an undesirable outcome, the public introduction of autonomous vehicles needs to have an escape route planned. This is a lot like a backup parachute, both in function and in being needed. If the downsides that the promoters don’t seem to see become huge obstacles, or if an unseen intrinsic flaw starts killing people big time, there needs to be a mechanism available to undo the introduction and get the vehicles off the streets.

    Remember that not every invention ultimately is for the best. Just consider coal fired power plants, if you need an example of what I am talking about. OR, the atomic bomb.

    This is not a suggestion that we should not see what benefits might possibly be provided by autonomous vehicles, but rather an appeal to rational thought, that a path to retreat should be part of the plan. Consider that even our space flights have escape pods.