The Boston Consulting Group’s Worldwide Officers Meeting (WWOM) – in session last week in Orlando – is traditionally a feast for technophiles, and nothing at this year’s gathering was tastier than the prospect of Cars Without Drivers.
Leading the charge at the “Car of the Future Pavilion” was Velodyne LiDAR. Velodyne joined Tesla, Honda and Lincoln, under the banner of “The New Driving Experience,” with an emphasis on autonomous driving, the connected car, and infotainment. Velodyne is recognized worldwide for developing high-definition LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors for autonomous vehicle applications, including 3D mapping and surveying. The company’s real-time HDL 3D LiDAR sensor family is the sensor for assisted or autonomous driving.
Some 50 companies were invited to attend the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) tech summit, spanning such areas as digital health, industrial design, digital consumer, wearable tech, big data, and smart home. Among those on hand: Intel; Google, with its wearable technology; Whirlpool, previewing the smart home; and Zebra Imaging, in digital health. The senior partners at BCG manage a multi-billion-dollar consulting practice and advise most members of the Fortune 500 on strategy, technology trends, and new technology adoption.
While the connected car and infotainment displays previewed how in-car entertainment, mapping, and communication are becoming personalized extensions of the consumer’s smartphone, Velodyne’s real time 3D LiDAR sensor and the future of autonomous driving generated the loudest buzz. And the most popular question was, of course, “When can I get one?”
“Autonomous vehicles are a reality today,” said David Oroshnik, Velodyne’s Technical Sales Engineer for LiDAR. “They’re just not used for ordinary day-to-day driving as we know it, but autonomous vehicles are active every day in mining operations and on the battlefield. And this is only the beginning.”
Autonomous passenger cars are on the roadmap of virtually every major auto manufacturer. The challenges automakers face are not only technical – they’re legal, cultural and ethical as well. Even so, the allure and promise of intelligent, accident-free transportation will continue to drive the development of autonomous vehicles at an accelerating pace and, according to Oroshnik, “Velodyne is committed to play a major role in that.”