Autonomous Vehicles – On the road to a Standardization : 5 Questions

In view of the recent developments, the Automated Vehicle Symposium 2016 and the SAE On-Road Automated Vehicle standards work is more relevant. The Connected Car meetup is organizing a meeting with the standards committee; of course, I plan to attend the meetup.

As I was contemplating, extending my experience from OASIS, W3C, IETF and EU FP6 STFs, thought of a few questions that would be good to get clarified. I will try to get answers on Monday, and if you have any, pl add to the comments.

P.S: I will post notes from the meetup next week.

1. Software Telematics

  • One of the important aspects of standardization is the ability to look inside a system declaratively, i.e. one doesn’t have to know “how” a system implements “stuff” but the “what” should be inspected, understood, analyzed, verified and debated (if necessary); the software equivalent of the CAN bus

Question 1 : Will the SAE define the essential semantics of the software pins – a basic curated schema with capabilities for extensibility?

Thinking more, this probably is a bigger effort that what is evident at a first glance, as we have to define the software model before we can define the telematics.

2. Verification of behavior by Induction vs deduction

  • We can either say that a system works because it has worked for the last 130,000 miles (deduction) or strive to prove the correctness of a system by analysis(induction). The proverbial deduction vs induction.

Question 2 : Will the standards effort address the mechanics of behavior verification ?

3. Definitions

  • Of course, definitions are the essential and fundamental ingredients of standardization. And definitions what a system is NOT is equally or more important.
  • As we are seeing in the media, defining AI and autonomous behavior are way more difficult and subject to multiple interpretations. For example, in the autonomous world, we can define AI like so.

  • Probably we are not looking for a humanoid, but we still need intelligent interactivity with the environment which includes pedestrians, drivers, intelligent infrastructure and other vehicles. We also need the Robots Rules of Order.

Question 3 : How deep does the committee plan to define the concepts & components ?

4. Simulation

  • Simulation is another interesting topic that we need to address. Companies do claim 100s of thousands of miles of virtual driving, but in order to characterize, compare and contrast, the simulation frameworks need to be equalized.

Question 4 : Does the committee plan to specify the essentials of simulation ?

  • Probably, a broader framework, with some of the software pins, would be a good start

5. MHI – Machine to Human Interface

  • The machine to human interactions are also another essential aspect.
  • When we drive a different car, e.g. a rental car, we don’t need to study new interfaces or vocabulary. What we know about brakes, accelerator, R and D positions – all are valid.
  • A similar set of ontologies and taxonomies are required for autonomous driving. To make a point, compare the driving controls with the rest of the controls eg infotainment systems, climate controls;  sometimes it takes a lot of effort to understand the infotainment systems that we are not familiar with.  That is OK for connecting iTunes via USB to a car, but not OK for autonomous driving.

Question 5 : Does the committee plan to standardize the interfaces – not just the control but also the metadata ?

What are your thoughts ? Do you have more questions ?

P.S: We haven’t addressed a host of related domains like v2v protocols, v2I protocols(vehicle-to-intelligent infrastructure), security mechanisms, embedding behaviors and extending to the world of drones !


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