IMN and the NEMPA/MIT Technology Conference

Last Friday, I had the distinct pleasure of moderating a panel of scientists and senior executives from several of the major automotive manufacturers. The subject of the conference was the Autonomous Vehicle — the research and development of automobiles that have the ability to drive on their own.

MIT’s self-driving entry in the DARPA Urban Challenge

MIT’s self-driving entry in the DARPA Urban Challenge Photo Courtesy: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The panelists for the event, held in the Alumni Suite at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts,  included:

  • Henry Bzeith – Head of Infotainment and Telematics for Kia Motors America
  • Brian Reimer – Ph.D., Research Engineer with MIT AgeLab and Associate Director of the New England University Transportation Center
  • Christian Schumacher – Director, Engineering Systems & Technology, NAFTA Continental North America
  • Sasha Simon – Product Manager, Advanced Product Planning, Mercedes-Benz
  • Tom Baloga – Vice President, Engineering US, BMW
  • Dr. Nady Boules – Director, Engineering & Controls Integration Research Laboratory, GM Global Research and Development

The timing of the event couldn’t have been better. Wednesday of last week, Google announced that it had received a license to operate its own autonomous vehicle on public roads in Nevada.

Bryan Reimer, PhD.

Bryan Reimer, PhD., Research Scientist at the MIT AgeLab, discusses the challenges of autonomous vehicles.
Photo Courtesy: Steven Szydlowski

The audience was comprised of members of the media, students and faculty from MIT and members of government agencies interested in the technology and the legal issues surrounding autonomous or semiautonomous vehicles.

This technology exists today, in the form of GPS,  adaptive cruise control, emergency braking, lane departure warnings and collision avoidance systems. The technological hurdles are almost universally seen as a non-issue. It’s the legal and ethical considerations that are under serious consideration.

Whatever the future holds, our cars will continue to help us become better drivers. It was truly a pleasure to be able to help direct a debate with these leaders in industry and academia.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.