Intel, Arizona Universities And Agencies Join Forces On Autonomous Vehicle Research Center

Published: Friday, October 12, 2018 - 10:25am
Updated: Friday, October 12, 2018 - 3:29pm
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MARK BRODIE: You've seen the Waymo self-driving cars stopped at intersections, you've probably seen Uber cars in your rear view, well, here's another name entering the valley self-driving arena — The Institute for Automated Mobility. Gov. Doug Ducey announced the new organization yesterday.

GOV. DOUG DUCEY: There's a lot of questions that still need to be answered and of course our first priority is always going to be public safety. But I think that this is reflective of what our philosophy is, as we know that it is not the government that creates these technologies and these ideas — but it is the government that wants to ensure public health and public safety.

BRODIE: So the Institute for Automated Mobility will be collaboration between government, the private sector and the three state public universities. Intel is the only private sector company involved so far and it played a key role in designing the institute's structure and mission. We're joined now by Jack Weast, senior principal engineer at Intel. He works on automated vehicle standards there. Jack, good morning. Jack, are you there?

JACK WEAST: Yes, I am. Good morning.

BRODIE: Good morning. So, best case scenario to you, what comes out of this new institute?

WEAST: Well, I think this focus of the Institute on safety, and collaborating with government and the state universities and consumers to really try to answer some of these currently unanswered questions — about how do you know when to give an automated vehicle a driver's license. What does the driver's test look like — and how do we work together as industry with state partners to figure out the answers to these questions?

BRODIE: Given all of the testing that's been going on on Valley roadways and all of the different companies and projects that have been going on here, is it maybe a little late to be just starting to think and work on some of these issues?

WEAST: No, the timing is great actually — and we've had a long research partnership with Arizona State University. And so the center of this Institute for Automated Mobility is an opportunity to bring together a lot of efforts that have already been going on between industry, and academia, and state government partners — and bring it under one house so we can accelerate the completion of the work so we can bring this technology and improve the lives of everyone across Arizona.

BRODIE: How optimistic are you that other private company like Intel will join in?

WEAST: I think we're very optimistic. The feedback we've gotten already from the announcements that Gov. Ducey made last night has been phenomenal. We certainly can't share any names at the moment, but you should definitely expect some powerful brands that we all know and love to join the center soon.

BRODIE: Well, what's interesting about that is that we've read for so long that the companies that are working on this technology have been very proprietary, very secretive — they don't want people to really know specifically what they're working on because they're nervous about their particular secrets and technology getting out. Do you think that companies — I mean will Intel for example — be willing to share what it knows with other potentially competitor companies?

WEAST: We absolutely are. And the reason is, we feel that safety is something that shouldn't be left up to proprietary champs. We think that the safety of automated vehicles and the safety of the decision making of those vehicles and how they drive on these roadways is a challenge is much bigger than any one company. And it's something that can only be solved together as an industry in an open and transparent technology neutral manner across ourselves, our customers our competitors, government academia, consumers all of us looking at this problem together and agreeing that — yeah that's the right way I'd like that automated vehicle to operate, and yeah that's the right decision for that automated vehicle to make that kind of scenario. So we've actually opened up a key innovation that we've created at Intel called the responsibility sensitive safety model — which is a starting point for this conversation. It's a formal model for how decisions can be made safe in an autonomous vehicle, and we are very happy to share that with the industry in a completely open and transparent fashion.

BRODIE: So does that mean that on matters of safety maybe you and other companies will be willing to collaborate, but are there still areas where you still kind of want to keep your stuff sort of you know behind your shoulders or so other people can look over and see what you're working on?

WEAST: No, market differentiation is still important. Brands of vehicles are important, and our customers still want that brand identity. And so, differentiation in terms of the vehicle experience — or what other kinds of drive or ride features — is all opportunity for the market to be really creative. But at the end of the day, I think what we as an industry have an obligation to do is to ensure that there is a basic level of safety across all brands. And so that consumers can trust the safety of an automated vehicle, regardless of what brand or service operator is operating that vehicle.

BRODIE: Jack, the million-dollar question now quickly before we let you go — how close are you and how close maybe do you think some of the other companies are to having these ready to go on roads not in testing mode, but in actual driverless mode?

WEAST: I tell my friends and family that it's closer than you think. And I think the last puzzle is to work with regulators and consumer groups to establish that trust, prove that it's safe so that we can deploy these vehicles widely for all to enjoy.

BRODIE: All right, that's Jack West, senior principal engineer at Intel working on automated vehicle standards there. Jack thanks, for your time we appreciate it.

WEAST: Thank you.

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