Inside Unmanned Systems

FEB-MAR 2017

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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Q+A 58 unmanned systems inside February/March 2017 Q G F Q: How far away is that kind of capability? a: I think that's coming within the next several years. There are pieces of it that are here already. I mean you can already— from your vehicle with Apple CarPlay and with our prototype Alexa app that's headed your way by the end of this year—talk to your KEN WASHINGTON is vice president of Research and Advanced Engineering at Ford Motor Company. He leads Ford's worldwide research organization, including its work on autonomous and driver-assisted vehicles, overseeing the development and implementation of the company's technology strategy and plans. Q: Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford said in a talk about autonomous vehicles that everything would need to be connected for mobility to really work. What's needed to make that a reality? a: I think that kind of connectivity is already becoming a reality. Everything is getting connected to some cloud infrastructure. What hasn't happened yet is connectivity is not yet broadly deployed enough at the kinds of reliabilities that allow you to depend on it for a product that you stake your life in.…And so I think it's a long way away before connectivity will become the required enabler of autonomy. What I do think is very near is a future where vehicles are connected with non-mission critical services and you'll see high quality, quality- of-life additional services and experiences being unlocked by cars being connected to the Internet, ubiquitously, so that you can summon up services—order food, you know a pizza, order a coffee, connect to your smart home, speak in natural language and have the vehicle understand you because it's processing the natural language on the cloud. smartphone and have it open your garage or have it turn on your porch light, or set your thermostat as you get close to home. Q: What is the most revolutionary idea your team is working on? a: Well, we've been talking about the one that's the most visible, which is autonomy. We really believe, we really firmly believe, that the impact of autonomy and artificial intelligence and machine learning and robotics on the automotive business is going to have as, or more of, a profound impact on our industry than the moving assembly line did more than a hundred years ago. Q: How does artifi cial intelligence play into autonomy? a: Artificial intelligence is one of the many aspects of how you build an autonomous vehicle that can be successful in replacing the human driver. …(The) time has come where you truly can build software that can learn from experiences in the world using deep neural networks, can discern with the help of training what's going on around the vehicle. And that can be used to truly navigate in the world safely, robustly—in a manner that can replace the human driver, under certain circumstances. Q: Do you have a loop that takes what's learned through experience and feeds it back into what you're doing? a: We do plan to have these vehicles continuously improve over time as you get more data and experience in the environment. But specifically how we do that—with what feedback loops or where— that's something we're not prepared to commit to at this point. Five Good Questions KEN WASHINGTON

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