Leaders and innovators in the world of self-driving vehicles were in Howell, Michigan for a discussion on the current state and future of the industry. The panel included Pierre Bourgin of NAVYA, Adela Spulber of the Center for Automotive Research and Seun Phillips of Planet M. The general belief amongst the three was the shared optimism about the technology and direction the industry is heading in. Some of the bigger obstacles they saw were around existing road conditions, battery life in winter weather, and skepticism about communities making decisions around their use and implementation.
Pierre Bourgin, a French based developer who recently opened up operations of NAVYA in Saline, discussed the importance of needing to be “better than humans” in order to secure trust. He also highlight the significance of making riders feel comfortable during the course of any autonomous ride. Adela Spulber, spoke of changes to infrastructure that could be coming in the next 5 to 15 years to accommodate the technology. She sees a near-future where traffic lights are connected and can communicate with a traffic control center.
Seun Phillips, discussed the nature of connecting developers of the technology to OEMs and how the Michigan automotive industry can thrive from it. He also addressed the trust issue with passengers. He said some OEMs are using “geofencing,” which is when a car has the ability to stay on a predetermined path. Phillips called it a key first step towards getting people comfortable with it, but to be fully autonomous, you have to be able to work in any infrastructure and environment.