i3 - May/June 2020 - 20

20

MAY/JUNE 2020

i3_0520_Feature_SelfDrivingCars.indd 20

"'FROM A PURELY COMPUTATIONAL PERSPECTIVE,' THE DELAY IN
SELF-DRIVING CARS IS
ROOTED IN FALSE EXPECTATIONS SURROUNDING
AI AND TEACHING
AUTONOMOUS SYSTEMS
TO RUN COMPLETELY
INDEPENDENTLY WITHOUT MISTAKES, WHICH
IS 'A VERY SIGNIFICANT
PROBLEM' TO SOLVE."

automakers have taken back those
Level 4 commitments."
"There is a very long tail of exception cases in the development of an
autonomy system, and humans (teleoperators) can handle these extremely
well - self-driving technologies less
well," Papadopol explains.
To be sure, teleoperation can
encompass more than remote drivTAL COHEN
ing by a human in real-world situations that challenge a vehicle's
built-in technology. "Teleoperation brings the human touch to an autonomous deployment by enabling a remote assistant to assure passengers and
inspire confidence in a way that a robot simply cannot," she suggests.
"From a purely computational perspective," the delay in self-driving cars
is rooted in false expectations surrounding AI and teaching autonomous
systems to run completely independently without mistakes, which is "a very
significant problem" to solve, says Tal Cohen, the founding partner of
DRIVE TLV, focused on smart mobility, based in Tel Aviv, Israel.
But this difficulty is exacerbated by the stumbling block of making selfdriving vehicles work in a complex human transportation environment
coupled with regulation and cooperation among regulators (such as smart
city and transportation officials), technology creators and automakers. Thus,
the first step in the evolution of self-driving cars is the application of autonomous tech in less complicated operations, such as for agriculture or mining.
"Learning from these case studies," he says, will lead to next-level strategies
for deploying self-driving cars.
It's possible the companies having the greatest success with self-driving
cars are staying quiet to keep what they're doing proprietary, says Bob

AndrzejWojcicki/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

underwhelming start compared to what
was originally fanfared," he adds.
"It's not helpful that Tesla vehicles keep
running into things," says Roger Lanctot,
director of automotive connected mobility at Strategy Analytics in Newton, MA.
"We're still struggling with semi-autonomous operation, let alone full autonomous operation," he adds. "The real issue
is the lack of a regulatory regime to let
these things run wild. This robotaxi proposition is probably further away than it
seems. What's missing is a business
model. It's a very expensive piece of
equipment trying to replace humandriven taxis, which are delivering reasonably priced transportation in reasonable
comfort and with reasonable reliability."
However, the opposite could be true of
self-driving commercial trucks, roboshuttles at places like airports, and specialty equipment (such as military
vehicles), Lanctot states. Those could
make business sense, he says.
Indeed, according to a March report by
Lux Research, titled Automating the Last
Mile, package deliveries by self-driving
vehicles and autonomous drones will
total 20 billion items annually by 2030,
of a total 289 billion parcel deliveries that
year. "Robot-as-a-service business models
are emerging in startups developing lastmile automated delivery technologies,"
says analyst Josh Kern in a release. "Large
companies that can invest in and develop
their own technologies are not expected
to use these services, but logistics companies and retailers with no experience in
robotics likely will."
"Almost since their inception, self-driving cars have been hyped to a state of constant imminence. This led to wild
expectations on the availability of the
technology," says Manuela Papadopol,
CEO of Designated Driver, a startup
based in Seattle, WA, that provides teleoperation of self-driving vehicles by
remote human drivers. "It was overhype
that led autonomy developers and [automakers] to claim full driverless capability
in less than five years only to have the
reality of this highly non-deterministic
problem settle in. One by one, the

I T I S I N N O VAT I O N

5/7/20 12:16 PM


https://www.luxresearchinc.com/automating-the-last-mile-executive-summary https://www.luxresearchinc.com/automating-the-last-mile-executive-summary

i3 - May/June 2020

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