Autonomous transport is fast becoming a reality

Bobbie Seppelt is a research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Age Lab and chair of autonomous driving for the Society of Automotive Engineers. We asked her to give us a short overview of her presentation at Shift Automotive.

Several technology and automotive companies are testing highly automated vehicles on public roads, and many vehicles available today can be driven with the assistance of semi- automated systems. As ride share services and traditional automotive OEMs race toward a self-driving future, consumers are confronted with the realities of transitional forms of automation. The implications of what these present-day forms of automation have on our trust and reliance will be described within a broader discussion on how to keep the human at the centre of an automated vehicle system along the road to a self-driving future.

What does your work entail at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Age Lab and the Society of Automotive Engineers?

I am technical lead on two academic industry partnerships focused on developing next generation driver attention measurement tools, and on understanding ‘in the wild’ use of in- vehicle technologies in production- level driving automation systems. I am also active in several national and international initiatives to identify and frame human-centred issues related to driving automation.

How will autonomous driving change human transport?

It has the potential to increase mobility for disadvantaged and disabled communities; improve on-road safety; and will shift the role of humans from drivers to supervisors.

Can you explain the emerging cross-over between automotive and consumer electronics? Consumer electronics runs on a continuous innovative platform, with OEMs having 4-5-year design cycles. Electronics technology necessarily bleeds into vehicle design and development because of its faster design cycle and influential computing and AI developments.

How important is it to have a platform like the Shift Automotive in order to foster thought leadership in these fields?

It’s incredibly important for fuelling human-centric, affective design that considers both safety and comfort to ensure longer-term adoption and improved mobility across all ages.

Photo: Bobbie Seppelt, Research scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Age Lab and chair of autonomous driving for the Society of Automotive Engineers