How Long Until You Can Take A Self-Driving Car To DAC?

NXP Automotive CTO Lars Reger to open DAC Monday.


There is no hotter topic in tech than self-driving cars. How else to explain the worldwide headlines after what can only be described as a modest little fender-bender last month in Mountain View. The culprit was one of Alphabet Inc.’s autonomous Lexus 450h’s, by now a media darling/goat. Despite the apparent and very prosaic facts — the Lexus was traveling 2 miles per hour, nobody was hurt, it was the first at-fault incident in more than 1.5 million miles of autonomous driving, etc. — the event was and remains a modest sensation, online and otherwise.

“Google was dealing with a pronounced shadow hanging over its presence at SXSW this week,” wrote Nick Statt last week in The Verge. “Now the fallout [from the accident] has found its way into nearly every transportation-focused panel discussion here in Austin.”

Of course we will be continuing the discussion in a few months at DAC, the real gem on Austin’s technology event calendar this year. (Ahem!) Our Monday keynoter is NXP Automotive CTO, Lars Reger. Lars will talk about the specific technologies driving the autonomous vehicle revolution, from CMOS-based radar to gigabit Ethernet for in-car communication to vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure data exchange.

Now, given a choice, most people would probably initially choose to be on the wrong end of a browser than a bumper, even one traveling at a crawl. But how many would change their minds after watching Wired’s Andy Greenberg get hacked while driving a Jeep Cherokee 70 miles per hour down a St. Louis freeway last year?

“[T]he era of autonomous vehicles cannot truly arrive until consumers really trust that their vehicles are safe against hacking,” Lars wrote in the blurb describing his speech on

You should plan to be there in time for the speech, not once because the content is sure to be excellent but also because Lars is an engaging presenter with a good sense of humor, which he deploys now and then to point out that not every automotive security issue is one of life or death. “If, from my car, I can switch on your bathtub as I drive, then you have a problem,” he said last summer in his CDNLive keynote in Munich. He’s even a blogger!

Oh, and Lars isn’t the only representative of NXP this year at DAC. The company will also be displaying its revamped IoT Truck, the 36-ton, two-level, semi-truck trailer loaded with demonstrations, which you may have spotted earlier this year at shows like CES and Embedded World.

Don’t worry… this one has a human driver.

While nobody knows the timetable for autonomous vehicles, I can tell you that now is the time to register for DAC and make your hotel reservations. Do it now to make sure you get a room close to the conference center — then you won’t need a self-driving car anyway.


Arohtak says:

Ten Questions Self-Driving Car and Truck.

With so much activity, some questions come to me, as an observant user of technology products through decades.

1. What is the need /motivation for this “breakthrough” product? Convenience or performance improvement?

2. Is it possible to entirely replace the human driver? The human drives many kinds of vehicles. In that sense human is the universal driver. Is there a universal electronic driver in the wings?

3. Can this product be trusted to be good personal family transportation vehicle — as good as the present and better?

4. Are the design, technology, and infrastructure— even if acceptable on test tracks — sustainable, reliable, and safe?

5. What are the methodologies, procedures and acceptance criteria used in identifying and testing exceptions?

6. Can the self-driving car companies put documentation on the design requirements in the public domain? Can the general public give inputs on “rubber meets the road” issues? The challenge is convergence of technologies, behaviors and real time ground uncertainties.

7. Does this product /system demand replacing natural intelligence with electronic intelligence?

8. We experience a driverless or driving-less ride even today as we take rides on buses, trains, aircraft, etc., But with the artificial driver, will the experience be different, and how? Many scenarios are unpredictable in advance, but humanly addressable in real time.

9. Does the realization challenge of a self-driving car product/system belong in the class of “problems of constrained optimization”? If so, will there be an irreducible minimum set of unaddressed critical constraints? Can we afford to ignore this set?

10. Last but not least, are there any projections on cost of ownership?

Some questions are very general and some are somewhat specific. Nevertheless, they are relevant. The impact footprint of the self-driving car is incredibly large and dynamic — both spatially and temporally.

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