The autonomous vehicle’s time has arrived. With investment, technology, and political will stronger than ever, it is no longer a question of when, but rather, how soon? In preparation for the October 12th, 2022 Autonomy London City Summit on the future of AVs, Stephanie Hagen, Head of Content at Autonomy, sat down with Jakob Kammerer, a Senior Product Manager at Bosch Automated Driving to discuss the UK government’s recent, massive bet on AVs, what cities will look like in the dawn of autonomous mobility and why it will be impossible for one single company to “win” the AV race.
Stephanie Hagen: Could you please give us a quick overview of Bosch’s role in the autonomous vehicle space?
Jacob Kammerer: Bosch has had a dedicated automated driving team for more than a decade testing vehicles on public roads since 2013. We offer all the building blocks for automated driving from a single source – from actuators, sensors, and maps to software and the development environment – and partner with the car manufacturer who provides the base vehicle which is then outfitted with our self-driving technology.
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Our acquisition of Five, which created a highly integrated simulation environment and workflow within automated driving systems, will contribute significantly to our combined effort to build Level 4 automated driving systems, where the car can handle most driving situations independently with no human interaction.
SH: The UK recently announced its £100 Million plan to roll out self-driving vehicles on UK roads by 2025. What types of opportunities will this ambitious strategy open up for companies like Bosch?
JK: In general, governmental support is always appreciated since it helps companies to kickstart market entry programs. Financial support helps to overcome less attractive business cases, allowing for faster deployments. Bringing a product to the market as early as possible is crucial as it’s the only way to learn and improve. Hence, this kind of support helps companies like Bosch tremendously in testing products early at a lower risk.
SH: The plan heavily promotes the idea that AVs will make British roads safer by reducing the dangers of driver error in traffic accidents. What do you believe is the role of self-driving vehicles in making our roads safer for both passengers and pedestrians?
JK: Advanced driver assistant systems (ADAS) clearly show how single active safety components help reduce crashes and other sorts of accidents. Fully automated driving will go even further. AVs will be designed to be safe without a human fallback layer – the “layer” which is responsible for most of today’s accidents. If we’re designing the system to drive better than the average human driver (50th percentile), we would see fewer accidents. However, we’re discussing a 99th+percentile-level meaning road safety is going to improve drastically.
In addition, automation will unlock a new level of shared mobility with high availability at a lower cost. Booking rides will be cheaper than owning a car. We’ll likely see fewer cars in the future – enabling us to give back road space to pedestrians and bicyclists.
SH: For a large, older, and densely-populated city like London, do you think the future of autonomous driving will be more oriented towards private self-driving cars, shared robo-taxis and autonomous navettes, or a mix of both?
JK: I truly believe that the only thing that matters in mobility is availability and reliability. I don’t see automation for private car ownership if we achieve that with automation. There will be customers asking for different types of comfort – whether riding in a non-shared vehicle, riding directly from A to B, or even riding in a privately owned vehicle. The majority will be traveling in highly-integrated and highly-accessible systems – and they will be shared or non-shared vehicles of different sizes. But they will be operated by companies and used as a service. If the market for private car ownership – especially for city transportation – is big enough, perhaps it will be a different story. Like many decisions in the AV space, it is a bet.
SH: You are partnering with Autonomy for the October 12th London City Summit: Preparing New & Old Cities for AVs. What are you looking forward to the most about this event?
JK: First of all, networking is crucial in this industry. I maintain the opinion that no one is going to solve new mobility – or even “just the AV product” – alone. It needs partnerships and healthy discussions between all sorts of public and private entities. This is what I am looking for when attending the London City Summit.