This year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas featured an unprecedented array of autonomous driving and mobility technology. Warner Norcross was there, staying on the cutting edge of automotive innovation and advocating for systems that guarantee safety and protect suppliers from liability.
One of the most prominent conversations on autonomous vehicle technology at CES was a panel organized by Deloitte on “Navigating Risk Throughout the Mobility Ecosystem” that included Tom Manganello — chair of the Warner Norcross Autonomous and Connected Mobility team — and renowned automotive safety advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader. The two agreed on much regarding the need to ensure that autonomous vehicles operate safely. Both conceded for example, that accidents will happen regardless of how much technology advances, just as we continue to see failures in such prior innovations as airbags and ignition switches. And Manganello observed that government cannot rely on market demand alone to guarantee automotive safety. Consumers did not insist on such protections as seat belts and airbags until regulators required them — a result that advocates like Nader helped achieve.
Where the two parted company, however, was with regard to their optimism for the future. In his opening comments, Nader stressed what he termed “the arrogance of algorithms,” criticizing Silicon Valley innovators for relying on “untested” technologies to protect the safety of travelers and pedestrians.
Manganello challenged Nader’s critique. Speaking from first-hand knowledge gained through decades of representing automotive suppliers, he explained why emerging technologies represent a giant leap forward for automotive safety:
The technology is being developed that can work. It’s almost there. Go across the bridge [to the CES automotive showcase across the street]. Go look at the car Delphi has with 24 sensors. Those 24 sensors can determine and sense a lot more than I can with my two eyes and my two ears and the seat of my pants. So that’s where we need to go. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be tested, shouldn’t be validated or shouldn’t be regulated. But the quicker we can get there, the quicker that [lives] will be saved.
Indeed, automotive sensors and active driver assistance are nothing new. Even Ralph Nader advocated for what he called “radar brakes” as early as the 1970s. What is needed is a regulatory system that establishes clear standards for suppliers to meet and is rigorous in minimizing personal injury.
Manganello also spoke to the economic advantage that autonomous technologies offer automotive manufacturers and suppliers. Even though these companies will likely be expected to shoulder more of the burden in ensuring autonomous vehicles, for example, the cost savings inherent in vastly reducing the number of accidents should more than make up for that expense.
In addition to Manganello’s panel, Warner’s automotive team members Homayune Ghaussi and Brian Wassom surveyed the technology on display at CES, meeting innovators and continuing to provide guidance to their clients.
Whether you represent a traditional auto supplier or a digital media team looking for ways to help transform the industry, Warner’s newly launched Autonomous and Connected Mobility team is ready to help guide your company through the emerging mobility ecosystem.