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Tech on Tap: Self-driving cars and the future of transportation

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Category: campus experience Video duration: Tech on Tap: Self-driving cars and the future of transportation
VTTI's Andy Schaudt discusses self-driving cars, post-COVID-19 traffic volume, and how many of us are reevaluating transportation activities we once considered "normal".
Good afternoon and welcome to Tech on tap. My name is David Baker and I'm the community liaison for Virginia Tech in Alexandria. Thanks for joining us for today's session. We're really grateful to you and our speaker for making time to be with us today. I'm joining you from my home as is our featured speaker. We are beginning today's event by wearing our masks as a symbol of our support for the Virginia Tech community wellness commitment, including staying home when sick and physically distancing when necessary. Thank you, Andy, Please join me and taking off our masks. For those of you who are not familiar, Tech on tap is a speaker series that was designed to showcase the cutting edge research and innovation coming out of Virginia Tech as a university works towards building the innovation campus in Alexandria. We wanted to have a platform for engaging the community in dialogue about the transformative power, societal impact, and equity challenges surrounding emerging technologies and concepts currently being explored at Virginia Tech. Thanks to our local partners, Tech on tap is normally hosted in person at port city Brewing Company in Alexandria. These free, fun and casual events are meant to encourage the community to never stop learning, exploring, and innovating. Once it is safe, we intend to re-launch our in-person events and we hope you will join us. In the meantime, we will continue to provide virtual opportunities to engage with Virginia Tech experts and explore new topics that you might not have otherwise had time to pursue. Please keep an eye on Virginia Tech's innovation campus website for future tech on tap and other engagement opportunities. A few housekeeping items before we get started. First, closed captioning is in use for today's session. A notification should appear in your controls at the top of your screen. Click on the closed caption option to turn it on and the closed caption will appear at the bottom of your screen. Second, we're, you tell others about tech on tap on social media. Please use the hashtag, Tech on tap for all tech on tap events so we can reach, share your comments from today's event. Third, all participants were added to the video conference on mute and without video so that we can better focus our attention on our guest speaker. This is a large call and we ask that you respect the time of all of your fellow attendees by keeping your line muted and the video off. Fourth, if you have a question for our speaker, please submit it via the link provided in the chat box. We will attempt to address as many questions as possible over the next hour. Finally, this live question and answer session is being recorded and a link to today's presentation will be emailed following the discussion. We'd also like to know a little bit about you. If you don't mind, please take a moment to take a brief poll that will pop up in your zoom window. Now. Before we get started, I'd like to again thank port city Brewing Company for their ongoing support of the series and introduce Bill butcher, LRU out there. You'd be having some connection issues. Lru with us. Alright. Hopefully we'll swing back by and get Bill in a in a few minutes. But again, a special thanks to port city brewing company and all of their support. So with that, I'd now like to introduce our expert for today, Andy shout. And he holds a dual appointment as the program director for the Center for automated vehicle systems at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, or vt TI. And and is an assistant professor of practice in the Department of Management at the pamphlet College of Business for VT TI. He plans, coordinates, and manages the projects programs and business development efforts for automated vehicle initiatives. Pamphlet, he teaches coursework on entrepreneurship and technology strategy. He has two decades of experience in Human Factors, systems design and business strategy, having manage contracts for both federal and private sector organizations across numerous industries, most notably transportation and healthcare. Andy, Welcome to tack on tap, and thanks again for being with us. I'll turn it over to you. Thanks David for being here. Appreciate it very much for the invite. And before I get started, I know I appreciate the introduction and I wanted to talk a little bit about how I kinda came to Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Back when I was an undergrad in college. I met some really amazing professors. And they were doing a bunch of research around studying human behavior around technology and how to design that technology around the human. And that really hooked me and got me excited. And the more and more that I worked with them, I developed kind of a pathway into doing simulation research around driving. And I found myself doing some research about how to design technologies so that people could derive more efficiently and safely in fog. And doing work in driving simulators was fun, especially as an undergrad and grad students. But then I learned about this new facility that had been created to end, but in Virginia and the Virginia smart road at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. And this is kind of a teaser for what I'll get to in a little while. But they had miles of test tracks and research facilities. Some of which you could create, rain, fog, snow, nighttime lighting, a lot of different facilities. And I finally hit me that I'm going to be doing research in this space. Should I be doing it out there in the real world? And eventually I was able to find my way over here and work with this amazing group of people and work with these tools and on projects. Or really trying to design technology around transportation for the humans. Safety, of course, to the primary thing, but for a lot of other reasons too, because humans are kind of the primary role, what we're looking to do when we make transportation better. So today the topic is on self-driving cars and the future of transportation. And I think my overall goal for today is just to tell you a little bit about the perspective that we come from at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in trying to find ways to make the roadways safer and self-driving cars, I think you'll find are a big potential opportunity to do that. So to get us started, I want to kind of hook everybody into the topic of self-driving vehicles and kinda get to this area of what is driving the interests and self-driving vehicles. I think that that pond is definitely an intended there. But overall, I think what we what we have here as an opportunity to really help our community by improving safety, mitigating traffic congestion, increasing mobility for those that can't drive now or have never been able to. And even go towards potentially upsetting the negative environmental effects that we have with our current transportation system. One thing I'm gonna do is I'm gonna stop sharing for just a second. And just one thing. I'm going to show you a video clip of a documentary here. Really satisfying. And what I'm gonna do is we got, we had the opportunity to play a role in a documentary film by Director Alec, for which an executive producer, Malcolm Gladwell. And it was on this area of autonomy, self-driving vehicle. And I think what this trailer is going to show you, it took you into a little bit about the human element of what fell. And then we'll revisit best game throughout the rest of the presentation. So let me get started for you and you can start to get a sneak peek of what we're doing here at the HDI. Jining is an extraordinarily satisfying activity for those who choose to invest in it. Now we're at the dawn of driverless cars and we're about to redefine that traumatic. And as we give over control of our mobility, giving over more than we realize. That's what we're looking at. The future of cars. I remember when this was science fiction and here we are. I saw technical objects, could have a sense of vision and do their own decisions. People thought, I'm crazy. Jesus, I click. Now autonomous trucks going to take my job. And just I think we're ready for it. No matter what, there will always be nostalgia. They want to live in a log cabin and drivers 74 Camaro. We didn't evolve to spend an hour and a half every day sitting in a metal box. This technology to give people back time. The question is, how much will we allow machines to screw up? What is our threshold for that? There are significant costs to the. And significant benefits to society at large. There's a locked excited about and you need to know what's coming out. It's hard to do that. So like I mentioned before, some of the research that BGP had done actually in Northern Virginia and many of the people who are on today in your backyard got, when we did that in collaboration with Ford Motor Company. A thought in its overall documentary because it winds around trying to design these vehicles around humans and around society, and to provide that value and make sure that it's safe. And so there's some photos here and the director, our Director of HDI, Dr. Tom degas and myself getting to go to some of these film festivals and, and meet with Alex and Malcolm Gladwell. And, and I think that when this is webinars over, if we've got you interested in trying to understand what can self-driving cars really do for me and what changes that might make? You can definitely see that documentary film on a variety of platforms like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube. So I just wanted to give that nice little teaser. It really is about trying to design thing that can make the human feel better about navigating their environment and really designing it around them. So let's go back to the slide that I was talking about before about the different areas and really what I mean about the potential for this. So when we talk about the opportunity to improve safety, we have about 36 thousand traffic deaths in the US each year. And then globally where at 1.3 million. And the majority of these fatalities in crash, it usually involves the human to some degree. So what you're finding as dark driver distraction and attention, fatigue and drowsiness. And and so when we talk about being able to potentially take the driver out of the loop of the navigating and driving this vehicle, we have the opportunity to save a lot of lives. And of course we want to take the driver out of the loop where it makes sense to. But this is really one of the first opportunities in quite a while that we can make a really big jumped shift in saving a lot of lives each year. We've all been working in this space for a long time, making incremental innovation improvement and keeping us safe to some degree. But this is really one of the first ones that we can take a really big chunk out of it. The next one is mitigated, mitigating traffic congestion. And I like the quote that was in that in that trailer for the movie that we didn't evolve to spend an hour and a half every day sitting in a metal box. This technology to give people back time. So when you think through that, and many of you do have pretty hefty commute in the morning. And when you're done with work, that there's some huge potential here to have less vehicles on the road and then also having the ability to work while you're on your commute, on the way to work or take from time, have some coffee. And really get some time back in your life until I think there's some really cute potential there to increasing mobility. If you think about some people who haven't had the freedom to drive when they want to drive, have to rely on taxi services in other drivers to really help them get where they need to go. Maybe it's people who can't drive anymore on senior citizens and people who lost that driving proficiency. And maybe it's some people that have never been able to drive who are vision impaired and having the potential of a self-driving vehicle really helps them have freedom and mobility out there in the world. So great potential there too. And then finally, what advanced transportation technology and self-driving, kind of driving this innovation forward is that we have the opportunity for more electrification of vehicles and moves away from classical field. Potential for shared mobility where we actually share some types of redshift vehicles that are self-driving moves us away from high numbers of vehicles on the road. So there's potential there. We just need to figure out how we can really catalyze improving the environment as we kind of shift with self-driving vehicles. So before I talk about vt t, I a little bit, when I tell you about what we do down here in blacks there. Well, we do across the Commonwealth and research projects that we we perform right in your backyard in Northern Virginia. I want you to keep this kind of question in mind. What will this technology self-driving vehicles do for you? And I think that's the big theme I wanted to push here is that the research is all about what it can provide value to you and your family, and how it can make your life better and safer. And so try to think that through as I go through and show you some of the tools and the facilities and the research that we do. And then at the end of this presentation, we'll talk a little bit about what coded has done this pandemic to throw a curve ball. And in the work that we've done in the potential benefits of this, but also from opportunity that it might provide too. So a little background on Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Our overall mission is to save lives, time, money, and protect the environment. And as you can remember back to the benefits of self-driving vehicles, that really falls right in line with our mission. We've been around for 32 years now and really were the largest group of driving safety researchers in the world. And I think that when you start to see are huge infrastructure, test facilities and the amount of research and type of research we're doing. I think you'll be pretty proud to be involved in hokey nation. And what we're doing out there to try to get these benefits out there to the people and on the roadway. We do a lot. We have many different research groups across our Institute and we have people in the state of Washington and Colorado, Virginia, Michigan. But if you were to ask a lot of our research sponsors what we're known for. I would say that we're known publicly for collecting real world data and analyzing it to improve safety. We add 70 million miles driving data that we leverage every single day to try to design these technologies. The other thing that we're known for is where no new car companies for being able to do confidential applied. So we can support them in their engineering and design. And not all University Transportation Institute out their habits much flexibility to proprietary work and be at the cutting edge of what these car companies and tech companies are trying to do. So I mentioned before the Virginia smart road. This is the test track, really built about 20 years ago and it's been an automated and connected testbed for us for 18 years. Is the Virginia smart road was 2.2 mile long highway that was first built and at the time and still is one