The Coming Dawn of Self-Driven Cars with Oliver Cameron
While there are debates about whether the deployment of fully autonomous vehicles will happen in one or several years, many people agree that the coming moment is very close. In today’s episode, we chat with Oliver Cameron, co-founder and CEO of Voyage, a self-driving car company focused on bringing their technology to market as soon as possible, serving those who need it the most. At this point, Voyage believes that it is on the very cusp of providing fully autonomously driven cars. Oliver gives us an idea of their go-to-market strategy that involves catering to senior citizens in retirement communities before talking about the role that testing in these environments has played in the progression of their technology as well as the roll-out of their products. He also lets us know what a market-ready car needs to be able to do, and the significance of the difference between one car that works all the time and another that doesn’t. We get into the tech stack that is being employed in Voyage cars next, talking about computing power and sensors, why the team chose Chrysler’s Pacifica as their model of choice, and what their cars are currently capable of doing. Oliver sketches out the computational procedure a self-driving car performs while on the road and gives some idea of how few milliseconds the process should take. This window of time a car has to make decisions in is small, offering little leg room where costly tradeoffs are being made, making driving at high speeds or in busy environments the horizon for new breakthroughs. Oliver also shares his thoughts about the industry during COVID-19, what widely publicized crashes mean for regulations, and what startups should expect to raise to pay for the costly tech these cars use!
“One of the things that doesn’t really get talked that much about is this transition from an R&D project or science project to commercial-grade technology.”
Key Points From This Episode:
- Oliver’s background in Udacity’s founding team
- The origins of Voyage and the level of their autonomous driving tech.
- Testing the tech for Voyage in their target markets.
- Challenges Voyage encountered in its mission to cater to senior communities.
- Voyage’s thoughts on when fully autonomous driving will arrive.
- Taking driverless cars from an experiment that mostly works to a safe marketable product.
- How becoming market-ready means enabling the car to know when it needs help.
- Voyage’s go-to-market strategy; gaining momentum after dominating the retirement community niche.
- The car model Voyage uses, its limitations and capabilities
- Different aims and computational tech changes in the Voyage products per generation.
- Voyage’s use of LiDAR in its sensor suite;
- Regulations and thoughts on Uber’s widely publicized crash.
- Better sensors, better data, or better algorithms?
- The technical procedure behind a car driving itself.
- Performance vs latency tradeoffs: does good AI even matter if it’s slow?
- Thoughts on Waymo’s quietness; are they in trouble or just being cautious?
- Companies Oliver respects and why he has doubts about autonomous trucking.
- The amount of capital needed to fund essential labeling and data pipelines.