Bring on the Future

“There’s been an accident.” 

It’s the kind of phone call you never want to get. But, it’s a call I got on Thursday. One of my team members was hit by a car and badly injured. 

Hit by a car. The irony was not lost on me. 

This person, I’ll call him Joe (not his real name for obvious reasons), who is relatively new to our team in Silicon Valley, was just minutes before engaged in passionate discussion over dinner with his colleagues about how autonomous vehicles and smart cities hold the possibility to transform not only lives, but the entire planet. 

Delphi’s autonomous driving team had gathered for an offsite meeting in Pittsburgh, home of our Ottomatika team and the birth-place of our autonomous driving, path-planning algorithms. The day was packed with strategy, planning, ideas and lively conversation – which continued over dinner at a steak house in town. 

Joe was the first to leave, shortly after which the team heard a loud bang. They were concerned, so they went outside to see what had happened. 

The unimaginable. 

There was a car lodged into the building and two bodies on the ground, one of which was Joe. The car struck Joe and crushed his leg. He has a long, painful recovery ahead, but thankfully, it was not much, much worse. 

The driver had a seizure and lost control. Five people were injured, but miraculously, no one was killed. It was a night, however, that I was proud to work for Delphi. Our team stayed with Joe every minute until he was admitted to the hospital – which was at 2:30 a.m. They never left his side. 

I couldn’t sleep that night – both for the worry about Joe, but also for the anger and frustration that this accident happened in the first place. You know what I am going to say next. 

It could have been avoided. 

Computers don’t have seizures. 

A fully autonomous vehicle sees everything – with special attention paid to pedestrians. In the future, no one will have to receive those dreaded phone calls.

In the future, legs won’t be crushed by cars and lives won’t be uprooted by accidents. 

Nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year, on average 3,287 deaths a day. An additional 20-50 million are injured or disabled. In the future, autonomous cars will transport our loved ones safely and securely without incident or accident. 

Bring on the future.