There is no doubt that trends such as urbanization and the adoption of smart technologies are going to change transportation. There are a lot of questions about how urban mobility will change and impact autonomous vehicles. In fact, there is a lot of debate, which is why in this column I will spend time digging into this topic even more.

There are a couple of different views on the future of mobility. First, there’s the idea that the transportation industry will evolve slowly; but stay essentially the same. In this scenario, people will probably still own vehicles, but these vehicles and public transportation vehicles may eventually be self-driving.

Then, there’s the idea that autonomous vehicles will change the transportation paradigm completely. People may not own their vehicles but rely on ride-sharing strategies.

This new paradigm may revolve around on-demand transportation and fully autonomous vehicles. As I see it, we’re heading toward a new paradigm, but it will be quite a while before we reach this point. So, how are we going to get there?

Industry partnerships are going to be key.

Here are a couple of recent AV (autonomous vehicle)-related partnerships that are of note. First, take for instance how the virtual world can improve the real world. Dassault Systèmes and Cognata have announced plans to accelerate the launch of safer AVs by embedding Cognata’s autonomous vehicle simulation suite into Dassault Systèmes’ 3EXEXPERIENCE platform.

Cognata leverages artificial intelligence and computer vision to simulate real-world conditions through its automotive simulation platform. The company has already been working with some of the major automakers in the av space to shave years off the verification and validation process.

Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform, together with Cognata’s tech, is transforming the way products are designed, produced, and supported by allowing AV makers to test autonomous driving throughout the development cycle.

The idea is that this will lead to faster development and safer AVs once they do hit the roads. Safety has to be priority when we’re developing AV systems, and this type of simulation solution is critical during every stage of engineering.

The more scenarios we can test in a virtual environment, the safer AVs will be when they’re out there driving us around.

Here’s another partnership that’s focused on shortening the time between now and the age of autonomy. The Apollo project from baidu provides an open, reliable, and secure software platform for its partners to create autonomous driving systems in an effort to accelerate development.

Because it’s open, the idea is that it is helping to avoid the dreaded “reinventing the wheel” conundrum. The Apollo project enables the creation, testing, and deployment of autonomous vehicles without the need for companies to duplicate each other’s code and repeat development efforts. This project has 100+ global partners, and that partner list includes companies like BMW, Bosch, Daimler AG, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Intel, Microsoft, and ZTE, among many others.

Baidu has also recently announced a partnership with Excelfore to provide over-the-air updates and data gathering for the Apollo project. I like the sound of “data gathering.”

Excelfore’s eSync platform can update software and firmware over the air. It can also collect realtime operating data from any of the end devices in the vehicle. What eSync is doing is creating a bidirectional data pipeline and, therefore, a “learning loop” between vehicles and the cloud.

This is extremely helpful for the Apollo project because it’s going to help it develop advanced algorithms needed for AV development and testing. What’s more, the eSync Alliance released version 1.0 of its eSync compliance specifications, which is an industrywide initiative to build a secure, multi-vendor path for end-to-end over-the-air updating and data services for the connected car.

By providing a standardized but customizable open platform, the alliance is hoping to simplify development and reduce the cost and time associated with using proprietary technologies.

Partnerships that put more heads together—that drive innovation in testing solutions, that tighten up the development process, that create open standards, that produce pilot projects and road tests—these partnerships are going to hasten the era of AVs.

With autonomous vehicles, it’s tricky to talk about shortening development time, because safety is so critical, and you just can’t take any shortcuts when it comes to making sure this technology is safe on the road.

However, if we come up with better, smarter ways to test, then we’re not detracting from safety, we’re adding to it—even if these testing solutions take less time overall. These are truly exciting times if we all work together for the common good of everyone.

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