Senior Director, Autonomous & ADAS, Siemens Digital Industries Software (DISW)
David Fritz is focused on the modelling of autonomous vehicles and addressing the complexities that the automotive industry and its suppliers are encountering. “I come to this from a Silicon Valley and semi-conductor industry background where we've been dealing with these issues for quite some time,” explains Fritz. He came into the fold at Siemens through the company’s acquisition of Mentor Graphics (now known as Siemens EDA.) Prior to joining Mentor Graphics, Fritz was Senior Director of Technical Program Management at Qualcomm. Prior to that, Fritz worked for NVIDIA as a Tegra chip manager, so has a varied background dealing with high end systems primed to solve complex problems; the kind with high compute requirements needed for autonomous vehicles.
Enthused by the journey towards making autonomous mobility a reality in the cities of the future, Fritz is excited by the transition taking place. “After a recent presentation an executive told me that together we were going to change the world,” he recalls.
“I was speechless for a moment but eventually replied: ‘I believe so. And that scares me.’ He told me that those that have the courage to push this forward and make it a reality are going to be the ones that actually make a difference. I keep that in the back of my mind constantly, that as hard as this is, as many minds that have to be changed, as many naysayers that are out there, we must keep pushing forward. And it’s collaborations like ours with Siemens Mobility that are going to make it happen.”
Kunal Chandra, Vice President, Shared Autonomous Mobility, Siemens Mobility
Kunal Chandra and his team at Siemens Mobility are working to accelerate the integration of autonomous vehicles in public transport through a combination of external perception systems, distributed computing, low latency communications and high reliability functional safety architecture. “We have sensors on the roadside that can safely identify the traffic patterns, and communicate in real-time with shuttles – this information can be used to make much safer driving decisions,” he explains. “In a nutshell that’s what we’re aiming to develop.”
Chandra notes the problem the industry has encountered is that it's extremely difficult to get autonomous vehicles to the required level of safety where governments feel comfortable approving them as per the regulatory standards. “We believe that our smart infrastructure is supplying that last link, which will enable us to homologate these systems,” he maintains.
“I've been in the industry long enough to not be fascinated by technology for its own sake,” he says. “At Siemens, there are lots of businesses we start and close down if we are not convinced of making a real-world impact. I think our guiding principle is always to develop technology that serves a purpose for the wider society. Our goal is to make autonomous driving really dull, just like rail, so that it's boring, it's predictable, and it's super safe!”
Chandra believes his experience in the energy industry combined with an understanding of challenges that must be overcome to scale new technologies and businesses, has given him the mental resilience to deal with the obstacles that his team must overcome to be successful. “My experience has taught me the value of collaboration and that’s how we will transition this technology out of the laboratory and into the real world.”
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“Sometimes automation is seen as a panacea. We see it as one of a number of solutions, not a silver bullet.”