Autonomous Vehicles – Data Scientists are trying to make it happen!
Autonomous Vehicles – Data Scientists are trying to make it happen! But will they ever be on our Roads?
As a Data Science talent solution business, It is a privilege to be a small part of the journey of some of the newest technologies and sectors changing our lives. Many of the Data Scientists we hire have a subtle effect on our day to day lives, with behind the scenes building & improvements’ to models & platforms that help, marketing, pricing & risk. That’s to be expected big changes don’t come along every day.
Then there are others which while Success is not guaranteed have the potential to catalyse huge change, like the use of Data in healthcare. Data Scientists using patient treatment records to optimise treatment regimes, helping people with chronic problems like diabetes to manage their condition more easily and at the same time save millions, on drugs and operations.
The other area that has the potential to change all of our lives and the built environment around us even more than Healthcare solutions is Autonomous Vehicles and Data Scientists are trying to make it happen.
It’s Not Just Cars
Any & every vehicle becoming autonomous is the end game. New classes of vehicle, we haven’t even thought of yet. But most commonly, trains, buses, cars, planes, drones, and other service vehicles in factories, and for deliveries or inspections of property, and monitoring everything.
The Knock-on Effects for the Built Environment, the Economy & our Daily life’s
Roads, car parks, on-street parking, traffic lights, the design and location of our Towns, offices and shops, petrol stations and services, speed limits all of these things we take for granted and have essentially been built around or altered for the Car in the last 100 years will no longer require the same parameters
We have seen how lockdown has forced a change in perception of working from Home, and other aspects of daily life, Autonomous vehicles can & will do the same IF They Work.
Are they viable?
Autonomous vehicles have been the idea of Science fiction for decades and in the last decade the goal of a number of tech-companies and heavily back by Ventures Funds, as part of that effort Wyatt Partners has been involved in hiring for Innovate UK backed projects.
Wyatt Partners have hired, Machine learning engineers & Perception or Computer Vision Engineers, amongst other Data & research specialties, but the successful implementation of these concepts into the vehicle also needs to be achieved.
What makes an Autonomous Vehicle
Autonomous vehicles are essentially 3 parts, an AI, something that takes the sensory inputs and makes decisions, a Robotics & Control element, that both provides that sensory and feedback element to the AI and a third communications element that is required for any fully autonomous ecosystem so all the machines (infrastructure like roads and junctions as well as other vehicles) can communicate with each other. There are added complications in a system that also involves humans as the vehicles also need to able to communicate with us and vice-versa.
Autonomous Vehicles & Data Science
Technologies that have been at the forefront of helping to make Autonomous vehicles a reality are, Deep Learning and Machine Learning, perception elements particularly like Computer Vision, GPS is often used but other forms of self-localisation replicating how humans & animals perceive our position in space & time are also important.
On the Road to Mass Adoption
The technical advancements, we see in our phones, from the camera’s to the processors and graphics for Augmented reality are all part of the necessary steps forward for all the elements to come into play, Processor & Graphics firms require, many of the same Data Science skills in the design and testing phases of their hardware products as are required for building the software and integration with the robotics hardware, it is a huge ecosystem and this explains one of the reasons why despite so much talk we are still waiting for the ultimate breakthrough product on the market.
The elephant in the room of course is US, Homo Sapiens. Unlike a phone a product which started so simple and through so many iterations has now become a confluence of so many technologies, there were few worries about safety and because of that, it was easy for companies to get them in our hands and break through the barriers to mass adoption.
Do you remember asking why would I want to email from my phone? Why would I want to have a camera on my phone?
With Autonomous Vehicles it’s much more complicated, Safety is a real concern and not just for the consumer, but the wider public and the companies themselves managing the risk. Then there’s cost, which is certainly too prohibitive currently to get them in the hands of large enough numbers to start breaking the barriers of perception.
There are no shortcuts when it comes to safety and risk, this will need to involve government as well which generally makes for slower progress as standards and commonality will need to be established. The costs can be mitigated through a change in ownership models as well as the roll-out of commercial Fleet Vehicles. Amazon and other logistics businesses have been investing heavily and if they can get branded vehicles on our streets and in the air that may go a long way towards a level of acceptance to drive mass adoption.
As the recent announcement concerning Amazon possibly buying Zoox shows there is a long way to go. The price reported of $3.2 Billion is less than the Zoox valuation of 2018, something which would not happen if a viable product were likely to emerge soon. There have also been other casualties recently like Starsky Robotics shutting down, which leads to the conclusion that this will be a long road, but one that is well worth it given the potential benefits.
Wyatt Partners have been proud to work with some exceptional candidates with a focus on Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Vehicles as well as some exceptional organisations looking to break the technology barriers in AI, Deep Learning, and Machine Learning. We look forward to the continuing development of Autonomous Vehicles and the Data Scientists driving the Sector
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