My name is Nathaniel Horadam, and I’m wrapping up my final semester in Georgia Tech’s City and Regional Planning Master’s program. For the past year and a half, I’ve studied transportation planning to better understand how municipalities can leverage automated vehicle (AV) technologies to best serve their citizens, and how developers and operators of these technologies can create sustainable business models in an increasingly services-oriented urban ecosystem. Transportation planning is no longer solely the domain of public servants and transportation consultants, but now requires direct input and collaboration from players in the automotive, telecommunications and tech industries. As such, my management consulting background and planning education grants me a somewhat unique perspective on the future of mobility.
I had enjoyed sounding off on Twitter about these issues, as well as those specifically pertinent to my own city of Atlanta, and recently decided I should shift to a longer format. It finally occurred to me that threads of 280-character Tweets fail to effectively showcase ideas, and don’t allow the depth of analysis necessary to offer lasting value.
I’ve chosen to name this blog Machine Visions as a play on the suite of camera and sensor technologies informing AV decision-making processes. My commentary here will primarily address AVs, and the multitude of technologies that enable, augment and challenge them. This site will also serve as a platform for broader analysis and commentary on transportation issues, and particularly in Atlanta and the southeast region it anchors.
In some ways, January/February 2018 is the perfect time to launch this site. 1) We now have promises from multiple firms to deploy their first fully automated vehicle fleets by the end of next year (color me skeptical). 2) The frenzied pace of AV acquisitions, investments and partnerships between automakers, Tier 1/2 suppliers and technology firms shows no signs of abating. 3) We expect major 2018 actions at the federal level from both the executive and legislative branches of government to legalize and regulate AV operations. 4) We’re at an inflection point for connected vehicle technologies, with 5G cellular networks approaching their first rollouts and NHTSA expected to make a final decision on its vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) DSRC mandate.
My perch in Atlanta offers a particularly exciting view of this shifting landscape. Already one of the country’s most important logistics hubs (and home to UPS), the city is raising its profile in the automotive and technology spaces. Waymo announced last week it would make Atlanta its newest AV test bed, marking the firm’s first deployment in the Southeast. Also last week, France’s PSA Group (Peugeot, Citroen and Opel), became the third European automaker to name Atlanta the site of its new North American headquarters (Mercedes, Porsche). I’ll explain in a later entry why this city has established itself as one of the three centers of gravity in the US mobility industry (with Detroit and Silicon Valley).
I should be publishing new content every couple of weeks, and will try to stick to a 500-800 word range. Hopefully, you find my thoughts refreshing and engaging.
Welcome to Machine Visions.