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How close are autonomous vehicles to consumers?

AutoTech autonomous car event
AutoTech autonomous car event
Michal Lenchner

In and around Silicon Valley we occasionally spot a driverless car, in particular the Google 'self-driving car', which is the lettering printed on the side of each of these vehicles. The Google autonomous car is a project led and developed by Google that is involving technology for the autonomous car.

Google's project is currently being led by Sebastian Thrun, director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and co-inventor of Google Street View. At Stanford, Thrun and his team created the robotic vehicle Stanley which won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge and a prize of $2 million prize from the DOD (U.S. Department of Defense).

Google's self-driving car is not the only one, and other auto manufacturers, including Tesla, are developing driver-less cars. The U.S. Army is also in the process of developing autonomous vehicles for military use.

The prototyped driverless cars today have successfully navigated 300,000+ miles, bringing the autonomous car concept into reality, where a consensus in the auto industry is focused on 2020 as the realistic time frame for the autonomous cars to become commercially viable. Startups, technology companies and auto makers have moved into this segment in the transportation space, making proven progress towards self-driving, enhancing safety, improved vehicle operations, connecting via networks or satellites, providing tools, applications and alerts to improve the driving experience. For example: collision avoidance, GPS navigation capabilities, Transportation planning in urban areas, alleviating traffic congestion, parking management and more, are all incorporated into the car and the use of mobile devices: a smartphone or a tablet.

Such a revolution, however, requires further thought: Will there be a need for infrastructural change and to what extent? How costly would that be? What are the next steps in development? What will the social and cultural challenges in promoting driverless vehicle operation? Will our society allow to 'take' people out of the driver's seat? Will there be a need for legislation? What would be the next steps in public education and how to promote self-driving cars for mass adoption? And more.

Last Friday the Telecom Council and the AutoTech Council organized an event in Silicon Valley, which was centered on the future of the autonomous car. The event was open to members and guests of the the two organizations. Entrepreneurs and startups presented various technologies and breakthrough concepts. Below are a few selected presentations:

Peloton Technology - The trucking business is a $650 billion industry in the U.S. Peloton technology connects pairs of trucks on the road through drivers’ collaboration. The system augmens both drivers' ability, increases their safety, and reduces costs through fuel efficiency. Peloton's system uses radar and DSRC vehicle-to-vehicle communications to link safety systems between pairs of trucks, while drivers remain fully engaged and retain steering control, but acceleration and braking are adaptively controlled by the system. This results in reduction in aerodynamic drag, providing fuel economy for pairs of trucks. Peloton claims on-road testing showing savings of more than 10% fuel costs for each truck. Website:

MetroTech - Addresses car and fleet safety by capturing real time traffic data using the existing network infrastructure. MetroTech idea is to serve as a 3rd party traffic data clearinghouse to connect the city government infrastructure with the public and private infrastructure, receiving inputs from camera feeds, sensors and GPS probes to create a fully integrated traffic vision center. Furthermore, the data will be published to client markets in real time.

For example: To increase traffic safety, capturing data from an intersection and using it to avoid collisions in intersections. Traffic analytics, video analytics, and predictive analytics are all processed together to identify and alert of potential issues. Since the data is processed in real time, it gives immediate feedback. Sensors, apps, cameras, algorithms, and computer processing over the cloud have come together to increase safety in metropolitan areas. Website:

Savari Networks - With the growing number of vehicles on U.S. roads, accelerating the need for better transportation systems, i.e. the development of Intelligent Transportation Systems, which refers to myriad of technologies, from information processing, sensors, communications, control, to electronics. By integrating these elements into a transportation system and by utilizing information exchange between roadside infrastructure and vehicles, can increase vehicle safety, save time and resources, and more.

Savari product is an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) that improves roadside infrastructure and promotes traffic safety while connecting vehicles and drivers to the network. The ITS technology enhances the use of automated cars and focuses on collision avoidance in intersections, provides signal violation warnings and road conditions, and enables vehicle-to-vehicle communications. In addition to data collection of traffic, weather, parking availability, etc., it offers e-payment over wireless networks.

Savari was developed over an open platform which allows portability across various custom vehicle platforms. Savari's technology is patent pending. Website:

Kymeta - Today, users on the go demand and depend upon affordable broadband communications, any time, any where. Wireless communications doesn’t cover oceans, skies and vast land areas. Kymeta creates mobility solutions via satellite communications. When it comes to the autonomous car, the wi-fi networks have limited bandwidth and are owned by the network operators. The autonomous car requires fast, non-stationary and constant data feed and networking capabilities while in motion. Satellite solutions are available and present the cheapest data per bit broadcasting to and from a car.

Kymeta offers the Metamaterials Surface Antenna Technology (MSA-T) providing satellite user technologies. The Kymeta antenna will be used on airplanes at the end of the year, is being tested in various types of vehicles, and more.

Satellite communications is consumer priced and at an industrial grade. It opens up a powerful and uncrowded spectrum for continuos broadband communications. Website:

MotionLab - Line tracking motion is used in apps developed for the autonomous car. MotionLab has developed robotic technology that uses algorithms that allow vehicles to plan their motions and actually to drive themselves. Through mechanizing the driving skills, MotionLab products demonstrate various motion actions like making a right turn or parallel parking. Smoothness of tracking is important to avoid jerky corrections to the motion in line. Advanced sensors and robotic devices track forward travel, as well as backward motion.

The technology can simulate eleven motions: 1. Park Forward; 2. Park Backward; 3. Line Tracking; 4. Regular Polygon; 5. Star; 6. Circle Tracking; 7. Circle Train; 8. Circle Ring; 9. Hamburger; 10. Curvature Motion (based on six individual motions); and 11. Cyclone.

These motions are addressed by MotionLab’s algorithms for any vehicle and any circumstances. Also, the robotic system can navigate a static object, which could be a stationary human body, and execute obstacle-avoidance actions. Website:


1, AutoTech Council

Based in Silicon Valley, the Autotech Council helps connect and promote innovation in the auto industry, build partnerships, exchange insight, and grow their professional networks, while bringing together auto manufacturers, vendors, parts companies, advocates, and the entire automotive value chain. This "Better innovation and faster go-to market“ supports entrepreneurs, engages VCs and corporate funding, provides access to parts and automobile manufacturers, eventually benefiting consumers.

To address the gap between innovators and car companies, the Autotech Council was built by forward-thinking auto manufacturers and their major vendor partners to keep an open flow of introductions, education, and discovery between them.

2. Telecom Council Silicon Valley

The Telecom Council of Silicon Valley strives to connect companies and individuals involved in the region's Communications Technology industry with one another for business development, collaboration, and education. The council brings together the local telecom industry's critical mass of businesses, research, ideas, capital, and professional expertise. Members also include startups, VCs, infrastructure companies, and companies who are not based in Silicon Valley but work here regularly.

Using interactive forums, public and private executive discussions, social meetings, seminars, road shows, tours and networking, the Council provides a professional hub for he industry to connect, communicate, and collaborate.

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