Good Morning Livingston program reassures audience on fast-paced autonomous vehicle technology

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Out of the hundred people at the March 14 Good Morning Livingston program at Chemung HIlls Golf Club & Banquet Center, not a one had ever ridden in an autonomous vehicle. There were many concerns: Self-driving cars are a reality, but should we be intimated by them? How do they judge weather patterns, dangerous situations, power outages?

The discussion became more about mobility, efficiency and simplifying life so that we can enjoy the more important things. Imagine this:
Your car that sits in the parking lot and driveway 90 percent of the time now becomes a tool to simplify your family and day to day life. The car is scheduled to deliver the kids to school at 7:15 a.m.; it then returns to the house to pick you up for work. You are able to schedule your day in the car and take calls while the car delivers you to work, drops you off at the door, re-fuels itself and then find itself a parking spot. It leaves at 3 p.m. to fetch the kids from school, delivers them to practice, and then heads to get you from work. The vehicle takes you home and heads out to pick your daughter up from basketball practice and brings her home, while you have dinner almost done.

From family life to simplifying the trucking industry and cargo deliveries from port, the way we view mobility is quickly changing. The transition will be gradual, however, and we will not be the Jetson’s tomorrow.

The panel included:

Ryan Morton, Autonomous Driving Engineer for Ford Motor Co. Ryan has developed systems for rockets, drones, search and rescue robots, wheelchairs and autonomous cars. Ford has been one of the automotive leaders in autonomous vehicle research and predicts they will have a high-volume, fully autonomous vehicle in commercial operation in 2021 in a ride-hailing or ride-sharing service.

Morton spoke about the race to the autonomous vehicle, being well-played here in Michigan, as well as in Texas and Korea. The goal is to keep the automotive industry strong in Michigan, but the biggest challenge at this point is recruiting talent in Michigan. The pool of mechanical engineers has become very picked over

Edward Straub, Technical Program Director and Chief Safety Officer for the American Center for Mobility. The ACM is located on a 335-acre Willow Run site, which was toured by President Donald Trump on March 15. It will become a national-scale advanced automotive testing and product development center that will focus on testing, verification and certification of connected and automated vehicles.

Paul Krutko, President and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK.  SPARK is intimately involved in all aspects of economic development in the Livingston and Washtenaw region. He is also the North American Division President of the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation.

Look for more on this subject in the coming months, as the collected panelists did an excellent job reassuring the audience of how this technology can benefit us all in the very near future.

The program emcee and panel discussion director was Todd Spitler of Brighton Ford. The March Good Morning Livingston program was sponsored by St. Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital.

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