Tag Archive for: Autonomous car

It’s been almost eight years since 4G technology found its way to U.S. cellular carriers. Now, its successor, 5G (short for fifth-generation wireless technology), is set to be a game changer in industries as wide-ranging as autonomous vehicles, medical devices, voice-controlled home assistants and robotics.

Far more than just a faster version of the 4G standard, 5G — which was just released out of the experimental phase last month — promises to support significantly more mobile devices at a time without slowing network speeds and offering lower latency.

As of now, 5G is slated be rolled out on select U.S. cellular networks as early as this year. And its increased usage could provide developers and designers with much more reliable connectivity than is available using today’s protocols, which could lead to some incredible things.

5G and Driverless Cars

This means real-time computations can lean on cloud-based services to handle the added informational workload, which could give existing artificial intelligence software and hardware a big boost of smarts and capabilities.

An autonomous vehicle equipped with 5G, for instance, could exchange small amounts of data with the cloud on a continuous basis, and run comparisons with other cars to determine how to handle certain situations at any given time. Gradually, as 5G connectivity blankets roadways and buildings, connected vehicles will be in constant communication with the world around them.

This would unify the map-updating process among all connected cars, bringing together their shared data and putting it to use for the greater intelligence of the group.

Perhaps most exciting from a driver’s point of view, 5G could enable inter-vehicle communication to enable cars to more efficiently navigate obstacles like traffic lights.

Medical Devices and 5G

Healthcare is another area where 5G is predicted to contribute greatly in a spectrum of services. According to Qualcomm.com, among the areas expected to benefit the most are Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) and Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB).

For instance, more connected medical devices, such as health-monitoring wearables, will be used to monitor patients. With enough collected data, doctors could rely on predictive analytics to make more accurate diagnoses.

5G is also slated to help bolster eMBB, which would, in turn, bolster everything from live video streaming to virtual and augmented reality. Currently, proper VR systems are dependent on wearable headsets and high-powered computers (or computer backpacks).

With 5G, lightweight mobile solutions are imminently more possible, allowing for a greater immersive experience without the lag that’s notorious for causing nausea among users in the current generation of VR technology. This would dramatically improve scenarios where doctors are treating patients in remote locations, for instance, as well as with medical training.

5G Connected Homes

Unlike previous cellular networks reliant on large towers, 5G is likely to be comprised of networked devices as small as home networking routers, according to PC Mag.

Qualcomm says 5G will improve capacity four times over that of existing systems by harnessing wider bandwidths and cutting-edge antenna technology.

The possibilities for 5G go beyond cellular connectivity, and many carriers are eying it for home use as well. Verizon plans to roll out fixed 5G home internet service in a few test cities in 2018. Current 4G capability was never a viable home internet solution because the network simply lacks the capacity for the kind of data that would be flowing through a home-based system.

It’s also considerably easier to kit out a home with 5G. Internet service providers would simply install fiber optics to cell sites every few blocks, and provide customers with wireless modems that connect to the system, according to PC Mag. This is much more efficient than the current method of digging up each and every street to lay new fiber optic cables.

5G represents a multi-generational leap in internet connectivity, and before long will bring nascent technologies firmly into maturity right alongside it. Given how quickly the IoT market is growing, 5G is likely to usher in a wave of new technologies and near-instant upgrades to existing ones.

Learn how a variety of companies are navigating the rapid shifts of developing connected products with the report, “Bridging the Gap in Digital Product Design.”

Fleets of driverless cars will soon be regularly rolling through the streets of major cities.

One of the thorniest questions in this new reality is where responsibility falls when an accident involving one or more of these fully automated vehicles occurs.

In such a scenario, public opinion appears to be leaning toward ascribing blame to the manufacturers and software engineers that created the driverless vehicles.

That’s according to a new report from insurance giant AIG, titled “The Future of Mobility and Shifting Risk,” which attempts to address some of these oncoming quandaries.

The report itself, and questions it tackles, was one of the main topics of a recent panel discussion of industry experts — including representatives from AIG, ride-sharing service and Jama customer Lyft and various universities — coinciding with this week’s CES in Las Vegas.

Few guarantees were granted, but there seemed to be a consensus among the panel that while fully autonomous cars will help reduce accidents, the role of fault in a collision would likely no longer automatically fall to those humans in the vehicle itself.

“I think it’s going to be much safer, but I also think there’s going to be a significant shifting in liability,” says Kate Sampson, VP of Risk Solutions at Lyft, during the panel.

Measuring Public Opinion

For all the unbelievable innovations that have been happening in the autonomous vehicle space, the regulations surrounding its inevitable manifestation are still very much in the air.

In the AIG report, drivers in the United States, United Kingdom and Singapore were surveyed on a range of questions related to autonomous vehicles.

According to the report, the general public sees accident liability shifting as autonomous features gradually take more control of the car.

And, as AIG notes, the transitionary period, dubbed “the chaotic middle,” between now and when cars are fully autonomous — meaning they can operate themselves — is where things get tricky.

In a scenario where someone is driving a car with some autonomous features, and it strikes a pedestrian in a crosswalk, the majority of respondents from all countries viewed the human behind the wheel as being at fault.

When a similar question was posed, except involving a fully autonomous vehicle — one in which its controlling itself — people in the US said the car’s manufacturer was the most liable, followed by the software programmer. In the UK and Singapore, the manufacturer and software programmer were found to be equally as liable.

When it’s a question of an autonomous vehicle crashing as a result of incorrect or misleading data, the car’s software engineers were found to be most liable in all countries surveyed.

What’s also interesting is that the public feels there will be a range of degrees of liability for accidents involving autonomous cars. For instance, according to the report, internet service providers, car parts manufacturers, road construction companies and local governments handling for infrastructure were all named as potentially owning liability for these accidents with fully or partially driverless cars.

Meanwhile, respondents said owners and occupants of driverless cars were the ones on the hook for vehicle maintenance and software updates. A majority also felt that riders of driverless cars should have their own car insurance, even if they’re using something like a ride-hailing service.

Buckle Up

While the prevailing wisdom of driverless vehicles is that they’ll make our roadways safer, Lex Baugh, CEO of AIG North America General Insurance, says during the panel that there’s another angle to think about.

While fully autonomous vehicles may get better at making decisions on the road than humans, if they get something wrong, there’s the chance it’ll happen thousands or even millions of times over. To that end, he says, the “ramifications of the system going wrong have far greater severity implications than they would have historically.”

There’s also a host of other highly problematic security scenarios that still need to be grappled with, such as the threat of someone hacking into a fleet of driverless vehicles and causing chaos.

While it’s true regulations often follow innovation, there are serious questions that need to be asked, debated and dealt with now, because our days behind the wheel may be coming to an end very soon.

“At Lyft, we’re focused on getting a majority of rides autonomous by 2021,” Sampson says. “This is coming faster than people think.”

“At the beginning of the automotive age, drivers entering a city were required to have a person on foot walk in front of the car sounding a klaxon to warn the citizenry that a motorized vehicle was approaching. Will regulators require something similar now that we know our machines can fail to protect us from all danger?”
New Details About Fatal Tesla Crash Emerge
Steve Hanley, gas2.org

“Our kids will grow up in an environment where they’ll look back and say, ‘They actually let you drive?’ Eventually they’ll work out the kinks; they’ll have to, with the aging population and any number of other concerns.”
John Blyler, SEMI Pacific NW Forum Discussion (below)

SEMI, “the global industry association serving the manufacturing supply chain for the micro- and nano-electronics industries” hosted a spring Pacific Northwest forum which our attendees—Bill Chown (INCOSE CIO, Mentor Graphics Marketing Director), John Blyler (Portland State University Systems Engineering Professor & Advisor) and Derwyn Harris (Jama Software Co-founder & Product Marketing Director)—immediately got together to talk about afterward.

The tragic autonomous driving accident in June has raised awareness and broadened interest in the topic of smarter, safer automotive electronics systems.

In this light, we’re posting a transcript of our attendees’ discussion, divided into three parts with one post each week. Read part one, below.

automotive electronics

John Blyler: SEMI had an event here in which they focused on automotive electronics process and products. Was there anything of note that might have caught the eye of systems engineers in automotive electronics?

Go faster: Jama for Automotive Electronics Providers

Bill Chown: There were a lot of reference to the changes being brought about by autonomous vehicles. What does it mean to take what was an independent system and put that into the context of the infrastructure and environment around it, all the other vehicles around it and all the other things going on, and turn that from an individual system into a system of systems challenge?

Derwyn Harris: Yeah. The acknowledgement of being driven is the first real instance where humans are relinquishing some level of control to robots, or at least knowingly. We fly with robots oftentimes, and the military’s been doing it for a long time, but cars will be the first time that it’s widespread commercially. And so I think that recognition and that reality of how we’re going to overcome that was an interesting insight.

John Blyler: When I think of robots, I tend to think of—especially in electronics— artificial intelligence and algorithms and what-not. But a lot of the industry is maybe making microprocessors or networks and disparate systems or what we put together in embedded systems; this is going to add yet another layer or another more interesting emphasis. Was that the takeaway?

Bill Chown: Right. Robots interacting with robots and how they’re all going to play together. And someone commented about being reluctant to be killed by a robot, or words to that effect. Is this really a technological challenge? Well, probably the technology’s going to be adapted and evolved to where it isn’t really a technological challenge. Is it a social challenge, a legal challenge? We’ve got to overcome before this becomes something that becomes accepted by the majority of people.

Get moving: Jama for Automotive Electronics Providers

Derwyn Harris: It’s so much about perspective, right? You think of the number of deaths on the road today, and the degree to which—and I’ve always felt this way—the United States has a very lax system for training and educating drivers and putting safe drivers on the road, and yet, we don’t question that. And all of a sudden, when robots are in charge, we suddenly start to question and fear the consequences, when the reality is you can demonstrate the safety that it would bring.

Bill Chown: Is this well-controlled robot with lots of rules better than some average…

Derwyn Harris: Teenager or…

Bill Chown: A teenager, who just came up from watching everyone else and thought, “This is fine. I can do this.”

John Blyler: Well, that was one of the comments that I heard at another show: Our kids will grow up in an environment where they’ll look back and say, “They actually let you drive?” You know, because eventually they’ll work out the kinks. I mean, they’ll have to, with the aging population and any number of other concerns.

Stay on course: Jama for Automotive Electronics Providers

Bill Chown: Yeah. That was one of the commentaries about the evolution of the Apple or Google car. And someone describing this was saying, “I’m confident that my 12-year-old will not need a driver’s license.”

John Blyler: Oh, that’s right. Yes, yes.

Bill Chown: So, an indication of expectation of a rapid rate of change in the automotive space. Long design cycles, conservative ways of thinking about what’s going to change and what’s not going to change, and now a huge difference in the industry. The companies that used to be are no longer the driving forces. They quoted 34 automotive start-ups in California.

John Blyler: Wow. 34.

Bill Chown: Not just Tesla. And some of those are very, very specialist, and it’s more niche, but focusing onto all of the pieces that go into this revolution in automotive.

Derwyn Harris: And trying to predict that revolution, right? And the sociological aspect of it. Is it going to be a personal expression of who we are, like cars are today, or will it become a pure means of transportation where we no longer associate a car as an expression? Which changes the way it’s marketed and the way it’s sold and the way it’s purchased, and there’s such an impact to the market, both from the industry building them, but also the consumers consuming them.

John Blyler: So we have an industry that’s been very mechanical, and has become more and more electrical over the last decade or two. On top of that, suddenly they’re going to have to consider other multi-discipline system issues. That’s quite a task for anyone, and there are tools that are coming along to help, but one would expect certain lags throughout the process.

Bill Chown: Well, it’s making the industry change its thinking significantly. And they’re realizing that they don’t have the skill set and resources, and that’s probably reflective of why there are lots of startups in California. A different set of skills is being applied to this industry. It’s not, anymore, “How do I bend the metal?” or “How do I make an internal combustion engine work effectively?” It’s all about, “How does this thing communicate?”

Derwyn Harris: I’m curious, ’cause one thing that came out in the session was the lack of influence the IoT has had, or the lack of implementation of IoT around automotive. But at some point, IoT will be important and necessary. Is there a time when that comes about or are we just not there yet?

Bill Chown: I think it’s still not there yet.

Derwyn Harris: Yeah.

Bill Chown: There’s going to be more and more of those pieces that must play together. Right now, the automobile is a carrier for communications systems and loads and loads of sensors. But those sensors—right now, they’re part of the car. Could they be a thing that I just add on as I need those features?

That could turn the industry into a supplier of a lot of component parts; that would be interesting. Because right now it’s being driven by the manufacturer that says, “I want my car to have all these features, and you design them for me.”

But I think, over time, it’s going to evolve to a point of, “I can buy that off the shelf. I don’t need you to design that for me anymore.” You know, rear view camera. Every car has to have a rear view camera from next year’s models onward towards Odysseus. And every single one of them right now is crafted for that car. But they could be a very off-the-shelf, standard IoT…

Derwyn Harris: Right.

Bill Chown: …that plops in and does stuff. And if it’s an IoT, it doesn’t just belong to that car anymore; it belongs to the infrastructure around it. So now, the infrastructure could take advantage of the camera in every car to see what’s going on, on the roadway, as opposed to every car having to have its own knowledge. Can the system gain something from those sort of things? I think we haven’t got there yet. I haven’t got to the realization of the value of the ubiquitous IoT to a bigger picture, and it’s typically being applied to a niche role every single time I see an IoT. It’s specialist for something.

Derwyn Harris: Yeah. I feel like the homes we live in are the first proving ground. Until they can solve it for the home, it’s going to be hard to solve it in…

Bill Chown: So I’m going to have an automated refrigerator but can I reuse the tech in my car? Well, I suppose I can have a refrigerator in my fancy car, but that’s really not the point. But what does that thing do? Can I have whatever that thing does that’s applied to a refrigerator more universally applied in a broader case, and could I reuse that? I think reuse is going to be critical if we’re going to keep on growing some of this stuff at the rate we’re growing things. If we can’t reuse what we did before, it becomes unscalably expensive to keep on doing custom stuff.

Look at the silicone industry; when I started in silicon 30-odd years ago, we’d see 30 or 40 thousand design starts a year of custom silicone, and it’s way down on that now, because we’ve come up with reusable technologies that mean we don’t have to go and build a special way every single time.

But I haven’t seen that in the assembled system. We build around one of those things. They’ve all got the same xylene set PGA in them, and yet every single one of the gadgets is different. So I think we’re going to see some reuse at the end application that we aren’t seeing yet.

John Blyler: One example might be the use of Ethernet, which is pretty common in other IoT apps. Let’s not talk wireless so much, but there’s a push now in automotive systems, to have that be one of the buses.

Bill Chown: Right. And so, there’s a newer IoT, there’s a new automotive standard for Ethernet that starts to take away some of the limitations and risks there’d be for that and put that in a more deterministic piece.

John Blyler: Right.

Bill Chown: That was one of the conversation points. That’s going to be the standard interface for all of these additional things. There’s still going to be standards for the critical path of running the antilock braking, but for all these other things we’re adding on—the sensors, the communication, the external visibility, all of the infotainment that that’s going to bring into the cabin of the car—if the car doesn’t have to be a vehicle for the driver to know what they’re doing. I think those are going to be all Ethernet.

As companies continue to incorporate autonomous and other innovative technologies into system designs, adding reliable validation, verification and traceability analysis during development becomes critical. This is just part of what Jama’s robust requirements management platform does to help teams build smarter and safer complex systems. Sign up for a free, 30-day Jama trial.


I was recently a panelist at the C3 Connected Mobility PDXchange event. We discussed everything from autonomous cars, to smart monitors for babies, to the ethics of new technology. It was a great opportunity to learn from a wide range of experts within the mobility space, but what really stood out to me is that there are so many more questions surrounding the future than there are ideas around solutions.

There were, however, some cool examples of where new technology in the mobility space can take small steps toward making the world a better place.

As an example, the startup BabyBit is partnering with Jaguar Land Rover to prevent the heatstroke deaths of children in automobiles. If a child is left in a car, the air conditioning system could automatically turn on to prevent overheating. There are countless examples of small companies like BabyBit who are building single-point solutions.

The real challenges are seen when we look at the ecosystem as a whole, and especially when we start talking about infrastructure improvements.

Recently, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was in Portland as part of his tour of the final seven cities being considered for a $40 million “smart cities” grant. He said,  “Too often in these programs we think incrementally. But this is really a time for moonshots.”

I agree. By continuing to make small, incremental changes, we are ensuring a continuation of disconnected, disparate systems. It’s time to start the work of reinventing our transportation infrastructure with a focus on the connection between technology and community. It’s time to think big.

Making a monumental change in how we think about mobility will require innovation in how we build products and systems. New business models need to be explored and new types of partnerships forged. Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) have seen success around the world but still remain untested here in the U.S.; constantly changing political environments, big divides in federal and state funding, competing motivations and lack of ownership all play a role.

As new types of partnerships are explored, these key challenges need to be considered.

  • Government moves too slow and technology companies move too fast. Procurement takes too long, is too burdensome and leaves little room for learning and adjusting. Technology companies often start building before truly understanding the entire impact and are quick to pivot in a new direction. We need a middle ground. While we can’t take a minimum viable product approach to infrastructure changes, we do need to think about how we can build alignment from the beginning, learn as we go, and quickly adjust as necessary.
  • The lack of common language and communication tools. Email, Word, Excel, Sharepoint and countless other standard office utility tools being used to manage these projects simply will not cut it. In order to align around programs of this size and complexity, there needs to be common tools and methodologies used. As decisions are made, real-time impact analysis should be completed and respective parties brought in. There is too much at stake to make changes without knowing who and what will be impacted.
  • Competing priorities lead to misalignment throughout. Get aligned around common goals, be clear about competing interests and work to maintain that alignment throughout the life of your projects. Don’t step in and out of project plans only to check in at the milestones and the sign offs. Be transparent as changes in priorities are made.
  • Data management. There are the technical challenges such as data capture, normalization and fusion, but also questions around who will actually own the data. Data ownership has long been considered a part of a company’s IP. Outside of personal information, I suggest an open-source mindset when it comes to data. Normalize from the outset and move toward common goals to determine what the data will be used for.

We are at an interesting intersection (pun intended). New technology is allowing us to think bigger about what our future can look like, and while we may have more questions than answers right now, we can’t slow down.

We have the chance to reinvent how we approach the future of mobility. This isn’t a time to sit back and wait for all the answers before moving forward. It’s a time to be bold. It’s a time for moonshots.