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When we began planning the automotive issue, we reached out to one of our automotive experts, Dan Feinberg. A fixture at the Consumer Electronics Show, Dan has been covering autonomous, hybrid and electric vehicles for years, along with the rapid growth of high-tech electronic gadgetry in traditional vehicles. In this freewheeling expert discussion, Dan spoke with Barry Matties, Patty Goldman, and Happy Holden about the future of auto electronics and what it all means to the PCB industry.
Patty Goldman: Dan, you covered the Consumer Electronics Show for us, and you found quite a bit of automotive stuff on display. Tell us what you learned about automotive electronics at CES.
Dan Feinberg: Basically, the advances in artificial intelligence and the advances in computational and quantum computing are enabling total autonomous driving at a much faster rate than was anticipated even five years ago. The main thing that I am learning about automotive electronics concerns autonomous driving and the effects of disruption. Think about it: You have a couple cars coming at each other and there's going to be an accident; the human beings involved must decide. Am I going to hit the car? Am I going to hit the tree? Am I going to go over the cliff? Am I just going to do a gut reaction? You never know how a human being is going to react. The autonomous driving artificial intelligence is going to have to decide, “I'm going to have an accident. Which one will kill the fewest people?” It's going to have to decide who is going to get killed and who isn't.
Goldman: That sounds scary, having a vehicle make decisions like that.
Feinberg: It's kind of scary. It may be the best decision; it probably will be. I would expect that if the whole country were autonomous driving, the accident rates and the fatalities and so forth would go down significantly. But it's still scary because it really is the first step toward AI taking over control of things that human beings typically control.
And there's lots more in regard to automotive electronics, besides autonomous driving; what’s coming up is absolutely amazing, and the announcements that have been made by NVIDIA at CES and the announcements that they're about to make with regard to their 2000 series of graphics cards that are using some of their newer chips, that haven't even been announced yet, make this all so very possible and so quickly.
The other thing that I think that we should think about is the population of California. If any state's going to do it first, it will be the state that thinks they know what's best for you, and that's California. I would predict there will be major freeways in California within some short number of years where you will not be allowed to drive. You will have to go on an autonomous vehicle. A human being will not be allowed to take control. And I would say the next generation after the millennials you're probably going to have a significant fraction of them that will never drive an automobile.
Barry Matties: Another interesting thing I’ve seen is that in India and that region, there is a push for all-electric vehicles, and that's going to be another disruptive change in the automotive supply chain overall. What are your thoughts on the all-electric cars, Dan?
Feinberg: When your only choice was a Prius I was dead set against them. But now we're starting to get some real cars that are going to survive more than a 30-mile-per-hour crash and so forth, and I'm not so much against them. I just got a new car and I looked at a Tesla, but it bored the crap out of me—and that's why I didn't get one. But for most vehicles…think about nano-crystal power transmission. It's another technology that's going to be hitting us quickly. So you're thinking about nano-crystal power transmission, where an electric car will not have to carry much in the way of batteries and will have virtually unlimited range. In other words, they would be transmitting the power to run your vehicle over the airwaves.
To read this entire article, which appeared in the April 2018 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.