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Upgraded testing may be key to advancing self-driving evolution

‘The solution doesn’t exist, so we need to build it’

FreightWaves' Tony Mulvey and Waabi founder Raquel Urtasun at FreightWaves’ second Autonomous and Electric Vehicles Summit. (Photo: FreightWaves)

This fireside chat recap is from FreightWaves’ second Autonomous and Electric Vehicles Summit, which took place Wednesday.

FIRESIDE CHAT TOPIC: Using AI to improve testing for self-driving

DETAILS: A discussion on how AI and simulation provide safer options to traditional testing.

SPEAKER: Raquel Urtasun, founder and CEO at Waabi, a company that is building a trainable self-driving system using AI.

BIO: Urtasun has 20 years of experience in AI, with the past decade spent building self-driving solutions. In addition to founding Waabi, she was a co-founder of the Vector Institute for AI. Urtasun is also a professor in the University of Toronto’s Department of Computer Science.


On the progress of self-driving: “When you look at customer satisfaction of this technology, we see almost nothing. Very simple operation domains as well as very, very small fleets. Progress — but definitely far from the promised land we all would like to see.”

On primitive simulation systems and creating a testing environment that is on par with the real world: “Waabi’s road map was to address this problem right away by building a virtual world that greatly reflects what the real world is. So that when we test our system for the brain of the self-driving vehicle, it looks the same in the simulator as the real world. Then suddenly, you can develop, you can test, you can validate … all in simulation, which is a game changer.”

On hurdles to self-driving commercialization: “The solution doesn’t exist, so we need to build it and we need to be able to make the safety case for what we are building.”

More FreightWaves articles by Todd Maiden

Todd Maiden

Based in Richmond, VA, Todd is the finance editor at FreightWaves. Prior to joining FreightWaves, he covered the TLs, LTLs, railroads and brokers for RBC Capital Markets and BB&T Capital Markets. Todd began his career in banking and finance before moving over to transportation equity research where he provided stock recommendations for publicly traded transportation companies.