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One-on-One Conversation with Bryan Salesky and John McElroy

At the 2020 MICHauto Summit, Argo AI CEO and Co-founder Bryan Salesky sat down for a one-on-one conversation with “Autoline” host John McElroy. The two spoke about the revolution of the mobility industry and the significant progress of autonomous vehicles over the past few years.

Salesky stated this progress will only increasingly pick up speed. The technology hasn’t quite taken hold in the mainstream, but there have been enormous steps taken with the availability of cloud storage, GPU programming, and advents in machine learning.

Salesky did make note that these developments won’t just go from zero to one hundred, but will continue to progress in a more gradual nature.

“I try to be a voice of reason in this whole sector,” said Salesky. “It’s going to be a gradual ramp. There’s a lot more at stake here than just building the technologies. There’s also getting communities and cities and people to raise their education and awareness of the good things that autonomous vehicles can provide and why they should embrace these things.”

Real-world data and examples are essential to building these systems, and that observation and analysis take testing and time.

“Different cities have different nuances that can only be learned through testing across the board,” said Salesky. “The more data and the more real-world examples we give it really accelerates its ability to learn.”

Responding to McElroy’s statements about some of the publics’ fear about these technologies lacking a human component, Salesky claimed that in a number of dimensions AI is already safer than human drivers.

“The car can see all around it, it doesn’t get distracted, it doesn’t get tired, and it’s always learning,” he said.

Salesky emphasized that Argo places safety, not speed of completion, at the forefront of all their decisions and also ensures that these values carry over to their partners and suppliers.

“We have a responsibility to put safety in front of everything,” said Salesky. “When you’re working on something this complex, putting arbitrary timelines on it is not helpful to anybody.”

Salesky went on to paint the picture of what the autonomous vehicle movement will look like in the immediate future. The technology is still developing and carries a significant cost,  so the vehicles will likely first be part of shared service fleets and delivery driving before they become available for individual ownership.

In closing, Salesky asserted Michigan’s relevance in the industry. He spoke of the state’s great talent pool, which is filled with people who already understand the automotive industry and know how to test. The state also brings a number of test labs, a solid supply base, and a unique logistic ability to promptly move tooling and test equipment.

“Michigan’s a special place, you can get things done real quick here,” said Salesky.

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