Interview with Radhika Arora, Director – Autonomous Vehicles, Intelligent Sensing Division, ON Semiconductor

We thank Radhika Arora from ON Semiconductor for taking part in the Autonomous Vehicles Interview Series and sharing several insights, including:

Her detailed characterization of the state of Autonomous technology

Her insights on the trends in the Autonomous Vehicle industry

New business models in the evolving future of autonomy

How would you characterize the state of Autonomous technology?

These last few years have seen an abundance of new technology introduction in the automotive space, making it an extremely exciting time in this industry. This is a market, which for the last 100 years has been conservative and strictly bounded by set standards. Then came Waymo and Tesla that completely changed the rules of the game.

Electrification, Autonomous driving, Rideshare and Connectivity set a new frontier in the automotive arena.
Radhika Arora

With all these, we have been promised a future with cars talking with each other to modulate traffic flow, which will help with other aspects of visionary urban planning to minimize traffic congestion, that cars remaining parked on the side of the road would be a thing of the past; instead substituted with more Green space right in the center of the city. Taking stock of where we are today in the Autonomous space, a lot has been achieved but the road remains long and arduous. We are far from having fully driverless cars being widely pervasive across the country despite the promising strides made by the likes of Waymo. There are still some tremendously knotty problems preventing mass adoption of this technology.

Problems lie on the technological front, regulations, infrastructure, and consumer acceptance. Covering 95% of the use case is something achievable and proven by multiple automotive manufacturers. However, solving for the 5%, the edge corner cases continues to be the challenge every engineer working in this field wants to conquer. There is no consensus on the sensor architecture that is proven to flawlessly overcome all road challenges including bad weather, low light or broken traffic signs. Initially, there was a massive influx of investment dollars and talent developing autonomous technology with very aggressive timelines. Those predictions have undergone a reset. In general roads themselves are typically orderly with a predictable environment. However, the humans driving on these roads are anything but predictable. For autonomous vehicles to meet the expectation of being safer than humans, they will have to be able to respond to countless quirks by human drivers. For computers to be able to work past these unexpected conditions is where the ordeal remains. Until we get there, autonomous vehicles will be restricted to geo-fenced areas or limited geographical coverage in cities that have been fully mapped out, test-driven for myriad use cases.

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