Capitol Correspondence - 06.24.19

The Road to Automated Vehicles Could Create Accessibility Paths Outside of Transportation

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ANCOR is sharing this article by Axios because although it does not explicitly mention disability supports, many of the “spillover” effects it discusses self-driving cars could have on technology overall have potential to increase people with disabilities’ independence outside of transportation issues. For example, the article discusses sensor and mapping technology, which is also used in the development of “smart homes”. Smart homes reduce the need for staff in an individual with a disability’s home, granting more privacy and independence. The article’s mention of simulation could also apply to “robots” which are increasingly being explored to alleviate staffing needs in nursing homes, etc. – a discussion that in the distant future could also transfer to disability supports. As part of its work with the Coalition for Future Mobility, ANCOR is a supporter of the AV Start Act. The bill is pending re-introduction in this Congress and would create a federal framework to incentive the development of self-driving cars.

As written by Axios:

“The effort to commercialize fully autonomous vehicles has spawned an array of supporting hardware and software technologies whose impact could extend well beyond AVs, Rob Toews of Highland Capital writes for Axios Expert Voices.

The big picture: Fierce competition during the mobile computing boom led to better, cheaper components — cameras, batteries, wireless chips — that in turn transformed technologies from satellites to drones.

  • A similar process could play out with AVs, as the billions of investment dollars pouring into the sector enable advances that spill over into retail, health care and other parts of the economy.

Details: These second-order benefits could come from several AV–related technologies.

  • Sensors: The low-cost, high-performance laser sensors being developed for AVs will find use cases in numerous other industries. Lidar maker Quanergy is already looking beyond AVs, expanding its target markets to include industrial automation and physical security.
  • Simulation: AV programs are investing heavily to build simulation software that trains neural networks in virtual environments using “synthetic data.” This technology could democratize machine learning by reducing the need for companies to collect massive proprietary real-world datasets — with applications from warehouse robots to senior-care assistants to military drones.
  • Mapping: Highly detailed 3D maps designed to enable AV navigation could find uses in advertising, retail and urban planning. For instance, a company could serve a tailored, augmented-reality experience to a customer in a precise location — perhaps to entice them into a store.
  • Core machine learning capabilities: AV research is driving advances in general machine learning capabilities like object recognition, prediction and path planning that have applications across industries — from leveraging computer vision for monitoring crops in agriculture to using image analysis for automated diagnosis in health care.

What to watch: Expect the benefits of these nascent technologies to play out over the long term.

Toews is an investor at Highland Capital and previously worked on strategy at Zoox.”