Making it easy and safe for everyone to get around is the promise autonomous vehicles promise to fulfill. Despite the optimistic predictions, trust in self-driving cars remain a major stumbling block. We had the opportunity to discuss with Wei Wei, Director Business Development of Cepton Technologies, about their LIDAR products and the conditions required to promote self-driving cars and win the public trust.
How do science fiction movies and books affect the mobility of the future?
While they don’t always hit the mark, science fiction movies and books are indisputably creative and forward-thinking. Engineers aren’t in the business of writing fiction, but they do need those same qualities to help write a future in which cars can drive themselves.
It’s hard to say if this is art influencing reality, or the other way around. More importantly, in fiction and in reality, we’re daring to imagine the advancement of humankind through science and technology.
How will your technology prepare the vehicle of the future?
Cepton is now shipping the next generation of optical sensors for the vehicles of tomorrow. We recently announced the launch of our HR80T long-range and HR80W wide-angle LiDAR products, which bring accurate 3D LiDAR sensing at higher resolution and longer range, with dramatically lower costs. Our designs make use of off-the-shelf parts and eschew exotic materials, making adoption at a large scale more affordable.
Accurate 3D LiDAR sensing is the key to enabling level 4 & 5 autonomous driving. Vehicles with this level of autonomy will detect and classify objects – cars, pedestrians, bikes and more at a whole new level. There will no longer be a need for powerful headlamp illumination, mirrors or steering wheels. Safety of people inside the vehicle and outside the vehicle will be ensured. Zero traffic incidents and zero loss of life will become a very achievable goal.
How can we bridge the trust gap for autonomous vehicles?
Traffic fatalities from preventable causes are on the rise all across the U.S. Traffic fatalities in 2016 increased by 6 percent. Ninety-four percent of those highway fatalities are attributable to human error. Self-driving vehicles leverage technology that has the potential to significantly reduce traffic fatalities. As automakers and tech companies continue to test the technology, and find the right mix of visual and auditory cues, the general public will become more comfortable with the tech on the road.
What are your three demands addressed to politics on a national and international level?
We don’t have specific demands per se, but are encouraged by recent developments, particularly the US putting together its first federal legislation to regulate self-driving cars. Additionally, international governments in the UK and Dubai are allowing testing of self-driving cars and expressing their commitment to the technology. These actions show that decision-makers within government acknowledge the value of the technology and are taking steps to promote mass adoption.