3M-hosted panel discussion on infrastructure focused on the need for an improved driving ecosystem to usher in the future of driving.
“It’s amazing how far the technology has come … and the government needs to keep pace. We want to ensure the (innovation) proceeds in a safe way, because automated vehicles have the potential to save thousands of lives.”
Those were just some of the remarks by U.S. Senator John Thune’s (R-South Dakota) on balancing innovation with sound government regulations that opened a 3M-hosted panel discussion, Paving the Way for the Connected Roads of Tomorrow.
The event on September 27th brought together automakers, transportation regulators, industry influencers and experts at the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. Approximately 110 people crowded into the meeting room, drawn to an enriching discussion about the role infrastructure will play in ensuring the successful operation of the vehicles of tomorrow on U.S. roadways.
The panel, moderated by Robert Anderson, vice president, research & development, for 3M’s Safety and Graphics Business Group focused on issues of regulation & public policy, safety and technology & infrastructure. Event panelist David Kelly, a former administrator and chief of staff at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said: “Ensuring that AVs seamlessly connect with existing infrastructure will be critical to their successful adoption by consumers.”
Kelly was joined on the panel by Cherilyn Pascoe, a staff member for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation; and Greg Rogers, policy analyst and assistant editor for the Eno Center for Transportation. During the panel discussion, Rogers stressed the importance of visible pavement markings, road signs and well maintained roads as foundational to any viable long-term plans for AVs.
In his opening remarks, John Riccardi, vice president and general manager, for 3M’s Transportation Safety Division, compared the looming introduction of AVs as a landmark moment only paralleled by Henry Ford’s creation of the Model T and the modern assembly line.
“Today, we are again on the precipice of monumental change,” Riccardi said. “But for this quantum leap to occur, our infrastructure needs to change, too. Our roads are made for the human eye, and they need to be adapted for machine vision and learning.”
When the infrastructure is ready – via advanced driver assistance systems, upgraded traffic signs and “smart” road markings, among other innovations – AVs are expected to make a dramatic impact on society. For instance, a Strategy Analytics study estimates that nearly 585,000 lives could be saved by the implementation of driverless vehicles between 2035 and 2050.
“The time is now for the Senate to rise and work together,” said U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), who also spoke at the 3M panel. “We’re going to develop the rules of the road for AV in a way that allows this innovation to go forward … and ensures (the country) will be a world leader in this technology.”
Also check out 3M’s collaboration with the Michigan Department of Transportation on the first “connected” highway work zone.