Symposium Highlights Promise and Challenges of Smart Cars

C2SMART Center hosts the 6th NYC Symposium on Connected and Autonomous Vehicles

Keynote speaker Steven Shladover

Keynote speaker Steven Shladover from the University of California, Berkeley, PATH (Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology) 

As autonomous and connected vehicle technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, the question becomes not whether a world of self-driving cars will become a reality, but when. But as widespread deployment approaches, increasingly urgent concerns about safety, security, privacy and legal issues surrounding connected and autonomous vehicles are emerging, as well as questions about how this mobility revolution might reshape cities and transportation systems.

In an effort to work toward some answers, the C2SMART Center recently hosted the 6th NYC Symposium on Connected and Autonomous Vehicles at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering's downtown Brooklyn campus. The event brought together approximately 200 engineers, researchers, government agency and industry representatives, and other speakers and attendees to weigh in on pressing issues involved in the real-world use of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) in urban areas.

Keynote speaker Steven Shladover from the University of California, Berkeley, PATH (Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology) program brought more than four decades of experience in transportation engineering and pioneering research to his analysis of the practical challenges involved in deploying highly automated vehicles. He started with determining the very words used to talk about these vehicles, an area still facing a degree of contention in some sectors. Shladover also reinforced the importance of developing connected automated vehicles, arguing that automation without connectivity would be bad for traffic flow and safety.

The event showcased how these technologies are already becoming a reality in New York City through the Connected Vehicle (CV) Project. The initiative, in which C2SMART researchers are currently involved, aims to improve the safety of travelers, including pedestrians, through the deployment of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technologies. Mohamad Talas, the Director of System Engineering at NYCDOT (and a Tandon faculty member), supervises the NYC CV Project, and he took an in-depth look at its current status and the safety applications and devices that are emerging from it.

Other speakers included Jonathan Walker, Program Manager of Research and Demonstration at USDOT's ITS Joint Program Office, who offered lessons learned from related CV pilots in other locations around the country, including the complications involved in managing and securing the massive amounts of data that connected vehicles generate.

C2SMART Director Kaan Ozbay further delved into issues of cybersecurity, data, and privacy, moderating a session that featured experts from NYCDOT and NYU Tandon, including Professors Shivendra Panwar and Siddharth Garg of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and Professor Justin Cappos, from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Other sessions focused on the impacts and issues related to CAVs beyond technology, such as land use, urban design impacts, and long-term policy implications.

Evangelos Simoudis, Founder and Managing Director of venture capital firm Synapse Partners, presented a business perspective, arguing that next-generation mobility will transform the value chains in transportation, logistics, and more, forcing existing players to adapt to new models.

Throughout the symposium, posters, videos and demos were on display outside the auditorium, highlighting related research by C2SMART-affiliated students and the hardware involved in the New York City CV Project. A startup showcase moderated by Sarah Kaufman, Associate Director of the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation, rounded out the event, featuring pitches by 10 mobility-focused startups to a panel of leading transportation industry innovators.

Findmore information about the event, including a full agenda, presentations, and speaker bios on the symposium website. Full recordings of all of the sessions are available on the C2SMART Center’s Youtube channel.