Thermal Imaging: Making Roads Safer

John Eggert, Automotive Business Development, FLIR Systems joins Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss how thermal imaging is making roads safer.

The conversation begins with John sharing his thoughts on the current state of the autonomous vehicle industry while looking back to 2015 when he first started his career in the industry.

[The industry] has become a lot more professional.

– John Eggert

Today, the industry as a whole is spending money more wisely. It’s maturing, but certain companies still do not have a path to profitability. Expanding upon this, Grayson and John discuss the economics of the autonomous vehicle industry and properly setting expectations for investors and the public.

Diving deeper into the economics discussion, Grayson asks John to talk about his experience of owning a Quiznos franchise in San Fransisco. John shares what he learned and how difficult it was to operate a business in San Fransico.

With John’s unique experience of having owned and operated a business in San Fransisco, Grayson asks John why the autonomous vehicle industry is determined to launch a service in a city that is extremely unwelcoming to the technology.

John explains that the talent pool is currently driving the decision, but that could change in the future as the reality of economics and regulation set in as the companies move to commercialize their services.

Could Miami end up becoming the Autonomous Vehicle Capital of North America as companies are fleeing California every single day? Grayson and John discuss why and what is driving the growth of the autonomous vehicle industry in Miami.

Looking back on his days at Velodyne, John shares some intimate stories about the early days of LiDAR including a meeting with George Hotz, Founder of Comma AI where he showed him the latest Velodyne LiDAR.

The conversation evolves into a discussion about Comma AI and how George Hotz understood the economics of LiDAR. At the prices, George knew that it would be impossible to scale Comma AI with LiDAR due to the cost of LiDAR.

LiDAR is one of the key technologies to enable full self-driving. The other technology is thermal imaging.

There is no technology in vehicles today more capable of identifying or classifying or detecting a human or any living creature for that matter than thermal imaging.

– John Eggert

John goes onto explain the safety benefits of thermal imaging and how this technology can be incorporated into automatic emergency braking systems to save lives. Today, thermal imaging is not included in AEB systems due to the cost.

Grayson makes the case that it is not about the cost, it is about saving lives and doing good by society. In March of 2020, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 76% of all 2018 pedestrian fatalities involving vehicles happened after dark.

This conversation evolves into a discussion around safety and how Volvo built a brand around safety. Expanding upon brands, Grayson and John discuss Zoox and their relationship with Amazon.

Grayson goes on the record to predict that Amazon will launch an Amazon Prime Mobility Tier in the future which will include unlimited Zoox rides.

Closing out the conversation, Grayson and John go onto discuss FLIR Systems and the many use cases for thermal imaging around the world.

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Recorded on Friday, December 18, 2020.