Autonomy and Electrification Makes Possible

Matthew Lipka, Head Of Policy, Nuro and Bert Kaufman, Head of Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Zoox joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss why autonomy and electrification make the future of mobility and delivery possible.

The conversation begins with Matthew and Bert discussing what the SAVE Coalition is and why the coalition was founded. The idea for SAVE was originally hatched at an autonomous vehicle conference in late 2017 and further formulated during a coffee meeting at Philz Coffee in San Mateo, CA between Matthew and Bert.

Both Nuro and Zoox had and still have a unique point of view on autonomy. Both companies along with Local Motors decided not to retrofit a vehicle for autonomy and instead choose to build purpose-built vehicles from the ground up.

We got a unique point of view because we made the deliberate decision to not retrofit.

– Bert Kaufman

When companies choose to build a bespoke vehicle, it creates new opportunities but also unique policy challenges such as updating the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS).

If you are rethinking the car then you are not going to be building an internal combustion engine. You are not going to be building a vehicle that is designed just for protecting that those inside. It is also going to be thinking about those outside of the vehicle. There are a lot of opportunities this creates both in the robotaxi as well in the delivery space.

– Matthew Lipka

As companies such as Zoox prepare to commercialize their robotaxi services, they are working to properly set expectations.

The first to know is that it is going to be a very shallow ramp into society for these fully autonomous vehicles to start driving around on public roads.

– Bert Kaufman

Trust is the other key component to ensuring the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles. First responders have to trust that they can safely engage with the vehicle. The public has to trust that the vehicle will get them to and from their destination safely. Once trust is developed and the public’s expectations are set, robotaxis and autonomous vehicle delivery services can scale.

One of the most effective ways to build trust is through education. SAVE is working to educate policymakers and the public about the benefits of bespoke electric autonomous vehicles. One of the best ways to educate the public and to build trust is through interactive autonomous vehicle demo days where individuals can experience the technology first-hand.

People who have interacted with an autonomous vehicle, more than 75% of them say they trust autonomous vehicles, I would use it again. But people who haven’t, the number is much lower.

– Matthew Lipka

Autonomy and electrification are enabling designers and engineers to completely reimagine what is possible. This is exactly what Nuro and Zoox are accomplishing through design.

There are all sorts of new designs that may be necessary or possible created by autonomy. We are just at the beginning of learning that.

– Matthew Lipka

In order for this to happen, policies and regulations have to be updated. Policymakers and regulators have to look past what is considered normal and to a future that prioritizes safety innovations.

These new technologies offer the promise of new safety innovations for our roadways.

– Bert Kaufman

Wrapping up the conversation, Matthew, Bert, and Grayson discuss the future of autonomy.

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Recorded on Monday, November 15, 2021.