Trust – how Intel is driving the autonomous revolution
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich talks about the tech giant’s innovations with autonomous vehicle development and how trust, surrounding safety, is the key issue with gaining public support.
Intel believes the single most important factor driving our autonomous future is data – how to process, manage, move, share, store, analyse and learn from it. It’s a challenge not just confined to the driverless car. Tackling it will require the full depth and breadth of Intel’s portfolio, spanning the car, connectivity, and the cloud.
Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich maintains it holds an advantage with a consistent architecture the industry can work with that scales from a developer’s laptop to the data centre, driving towards an exciting future for transportation as it unlocks the power of data. With that future appearing fast on the horizon of our shared freeways, Krzanich is already looking further ahead…
“So much of the discussion around autonomous driving has naturally focused on the car as a mode of transportation, but as driverless cars become a reality, we must start thinking of the automobile as a new type of consumer space,” says Krzanich. “In fact, we have barely scratched the surface in thinking about the way cars will be designed, the interaction among passengers, and how passengers will spend time while they are riding and not driving. In this respect, autonomous driving is today’s biggest game changer, offering a new platform for innovation from in-cabin design and entertainment to life-saving safety systems.”
As part of its mission to advance what’s possible in autonomous driving, at last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show, Intel announced a collaboration with entertainment company Warner Bros to develop in-cabin, immersive experiences in autonomous vehicle (AV) settings. “Called the AV Entertainment Experience, we are creating a first-of-its-kind proof-of-concept car to demonstrate what entertainment in the vehicle could look like in the future,” explains Krzanich. “As a member of the Intel 100-car test fleet, the vehicle will showcase the potential for entertainment in an autonomous driving world.”
Krzanich believes the AV industry will create one of the greatest expansions of consumer time available for entertainment we’ve seen in many years. “As passengers shift from being drivers to riders, their connected-device time, including video-viewing time, will increase. In fact, recent transportation surveys indicate the average American spends more than 300 hours per year behind the wheel,” he reveals.
Expanding on their joint vision for the future of in-cabin entertainment, Intel and Warner Bros unveiled further plans at Automobility LA last November. So, what will in-car entertainment look like with the AV Entertainment Experience? “With this expansion of available time, Warner Bros and Intel imagine significant possibilities inside the AV space,” explains Krzanich. “Not only do we see passengers consuming content ranging from movies and television programming, we imagine riders enjoying immersive experiences never seen before, courtesy of in-cabin virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) innovations.”
Harnessing the iconic entertainment portfolio of Warner Bros, Krzanich envisages the opportunity for fans of the superhero Batman to enjoy the immersive experience of riding in the Batmobile through the streets of Gotham City. “AR capabilities render the car a literal lens to the outside world, enabling passengers to view advertising and other discovery experiences,” he adds. However, he admits there’s still the elephant in the room to deal with. Trust.
“While the possibilities of in-cabin entertainment are fun to imagine, the ultimate test for the future of autonomous cars is going to be winning over passengers,” concedes Krzanich. “The technology will not matter if there are no riders who trust and feel comfortable using it.”
Trust – the key to automation
Some experts predict we can save millions of lives and grant mobility to all just by removing humans from the driver’s seat. But Jack Weast, Chief Systems Architect of Intel’s Autonomous Driving Group, reckons the difference between theory and practice comes down to this: “People are downright scared of robot cars. In fact, a recent AAA study found that 75% of Americans are afraid to ride in self-driving cars.” However, Weast believes it’s a trust problem that can be solved. “At Intel, we believe we can overcome consumer apprehension by creating an interactive experience between car and rider that is informative, helpful, and comfortable – in a word, trustworthy.”
So, how can Intel help deliver consumer confidence in autonomous vehicles? Its research into identifying user tension points around concepts such as ‘human vs machine judgement’, and ‘giving up control of the vehicle vs gaining new control of the vehicle’, have allowed it to explore trust as a core element of vehicle system architecture and design. “We believe the technology Intel is bringing to market is not simply about enjoying the ride – it is about saving lives,” assures Krzanich. “In fact, autonomous systems are the logical extension of seat belts, air bags and anti-lock braking systems. And the Mobileye Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) technology on the road today is already saving lives. Current ADAS products from Mobileye have proven to reduce accidents by 30%, saved 1,400 lives, prevented 450,000 crashes and saved $10bn in economic losses. However, we cannot stop there. Our long-term goal has to be zero driving-related fatalities.”
Making the self-driving car a reality requires an unprecedented integration of technology and expertise. Mobileye is working with Intel to provide comprehensive, scalable solutions to enable autonomous driving engineered for both safety and affordability. With a combination of industry-leading computer vision, unique algorithms, crowdsourced mapping, efficient driving policy, a mathematical model designed for safety, and high-performing, low-power system designs, Intel aims to deliver a versatile road map that scales to millions, not thousands, of vehicles.
Mobileye boasts a portfolio of innovative software across all pillars of autonomous driving (the ‘eyes’), which Krzanich believes complements Intel’s high-performance computing and connectivity expertise (the ‘brains’) to create powerful and smart autonomous driving solutions from bumper to cloud.
Is self-driving safe?
“To reach our goal, we need standards and solutions that will enable mass production and adoption of autonomous vehicles,” argues Krzanich. “For the long period when autonomous vehicles share the road with human drivers, the industry will need standards that definitively assign fault when collisions occur. To this end, Intel is collaborating with the industry and policymakers on how safety performance is measured and interpreted for autonomous cars. Setting clear rules for fault in advance will bolster public confidence and clarify liability risks for consumers and the automotive and insurance industries.”
Already, Intel and Mobileye have proposed a formal mathematical model called Responsibility-Sensitive Safety (RSS) to ensure, from a planning and decision-making perspective, the autonomous vehicle system will not issue a command leading to an accident. It provides specific and measurable parameters for the human concepts of responsibility and caution and defines a ‘Safe State’, where the autonomous vehicle cannot be the cause of an accident, no matter what action is taken by other vehicles.
“Safety systems of the future will rely on technologies with maximum efficiencies to handle the enormous amount of data processing required for artificial intelligence,” adds Krzanich.
Thanks to its deal with Mobileye, the world’s leader in ADAS and creator of algorithms that can reach better-than-human-eye perception through a camera, Krzanich is confident the combination of the Mobileye ‘eyes’ and the Intel microprocessor ‘brain’ can deliver more than twice the deep learning performance efficiency than the competition. “That is a huge difference and one that matters. More than two times the deep learning efficiency leads to better fuel economy and less expensive cooling solutions.”
He concludes: “From entertainment to safety systems, we view the autonomous vehicle as one the most exciting platforms today and just the beginning of a renaissance for the automotive industry.”
UK must stop blundering into high carbon choices warns CCC
The UK Government must end a year of climate contradictions and stop blundering on high carbon choices, according to the Climate Change Committee as it released 200 policy recommendations in a progress to Parliament update.
While the rigour of the Climate Change Act helped bring COP26 to the UK, it is not enough for Ministers to point to the Glasgow summit and hope that this will carry the day with the public, the Committee warns. Leadership is required, detail on the steps the UK will take in the coming years, clarity on tax changes and public spending commitments, as well as active engagement with people and businesses across the country.
"It it is hard to discern any comprehensive strategy in the climate plans we have seen in the last 12 months. There are gaps and ambiguities. Climate resilience remains a second-order issue, if it is considered at all. We continue to blunder into high-carbon choices. Our Planning system and other fundamental structures have not been recast to meet our legal and international climate commitments," the update states. "Our message to Government is simple: act quickly – be bold and decisive."
The UK’s record to date is strong in parts, but it has fallen behind on adapting to the changing climate and not yet provided a coherent plan to reduce emissions in the critical decade ahead, according to the Committee.
- Statutory framework for climate The UK has a strong climate framework under the Climate Change Act (2008), with legally-binding emissions targets, a process to integrate climate risks into policy, and a central role for independent evidence-based advice and monitoring. This model has inspired similarclimate legislation across the world.
- Emissions targets The UK has adopted ambitious territorial emissions targets aligned to the Paris Agreement: the Sixth Carbon Budget requires an emissions reduction of 63% from 2019 to 2035, on the way to Net Zero by 2050. These are comprehensive targets covering all greenhouse gases and all sectors, including international aviation and shipping.
- Emissions reduction The UK has a leading record in reducing its own emissions: down by 40% from 1990 to 2019, the largest reduction in the G20, while growing the economy (GDP increased by 78% from 1990 to 2019). The rate of reductions since 2012 (of around 20 MtCO2e annually) is comparable to that needed in the future.
- Climate Risk and Adaptation The UK has undertaken three comprehensive assessments of the climate risks it faces, and the Government has published plans for adapting to those risks. There have been some actions in response, notably in tackling flooding and water scarcity, but overall progress in planning and delivering adaptation is not keeping up with increasing risk. The UK is less prepared for the changing climate now than it was when the previous risk assessment was published five years ago.
- Climate finance The UK has been a strong contributor to international climate finance, having recently doubled its commitment to £11.6 billion in aggregate over 2021/22 to 2025/26. This spend is split between support for cutting emissions and support for adaptation, which is important given significant underfunding of adaptation globally. However, recent cuts to the UK’s overseas aid are undermining these commitments.
In a separate comment, it said the Prime Minister’s Ten-Point Plan was an important statement of ambition, but it has yet to be backed with firm policies.
Baroness Brown, Chair of the Adaptation Committee said: “The UK is leading in diagnosis but lagging in policy and action. This cannot be put off further. We cannot deliver Net Zero without serious action on adaptation. We need action now, followed by a National Adaptation Programme that must be more ambitious; more comprehensive; and better focussed on implementation than its predecessors, to improve national resilience to climate change.”
Priority recommendations for 2021 include setting out capacity and usage requirements for Energy from Waste consistent with plans to improve recycling and waste prevention, and issue guidance to align local authority waste contracts and planning policy to these targets; develop (with DIT) the option of applying either border carbon tariffs or minimum standards to imports of selected embedded-emission-intense industrial and agricultural products and fuels; and implement a public engagement programme about national adaptation objectives, acceptable levels of risk, desired resilience standards, how to address inequalities, and responsibilities across society.
Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner said the report is another reminder that if the UK is to meet its ambitious climate targets there is an urgent need to scale up bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).
"As the world’s leading generator and supplier of sustainable bioenergy there is no better place to deliver BECCS at scale than at Drax in the UK. We are ready to invest in and deliver this world-leading green technology, which would support clean growth in the north of England, create tens of thousands of jobs and put the UK at the forefront of combatting climate change."
Drax Group is kickstarting the planning process to build a new underground pumped hydro storage power station – more than doubling the electricity generating capacity at its iconic Cruachan facility in Scotland. The 600MW power station will be located inside Ben Cruachan – Argyll’s highest mountain – and increase the site’s total capacity to 1.04GW (click here).
Lockdown measures led to a record decrease in UK emissions in 2020 of 13% from the previous year. The largest falls were in aviation (-60%), shipping (-24%) and surface transport (-18%). While some of this change could persist (e.g. business travellers accounted for 15-25% of UK air passengers before the pandemic), much is already rebounding with HGV and van travel back to pre-pandemic levels, while car use, which at one point was down by two-thirds, only 20% below pre-pandemic levels.