The Center for Connected and Automated Transportation (CCAT) at the University of Michigan just hosted its 3rd annual Global Symposium on Connected and Automated Vehicles. Twenty-nine speakers from across the United States, working in a variety of areas within the mobility and transportation sector, came together to reflect on the past decade of CAVs and to consider what the future may hold. This was not the ordinary event the CCAT team usually organizes though, as the COVID-19 pandemic reached the United States and the University of Michigan began canceling in-person events. Many organizations made the decision to postpone to a later date or cancel altogether. CCAT decided to pivot and move its large-scale event to an online format. They did this in the interest of keeping attendees safe and to support the decisions made by the University.
The theme of this year’s CCAT Global Symposium is on a clear 20/20 vision for the future of transportation and mobility. As in previous years, the Global Symposium was planned as a two-day, two-track event with over 130 in-person attendees in Ann Arbor, MI. To preserve engagement in an online format, CCAT condensed the program into a 9-hour day featuring two keynotes, two CCAT research sessions, and five, panel discussions. Keynotes were delivered by John Kwant, Global Director for Government Relations for Ford Motor Company and Dr. Huei Peng, the Director of Mcity. They discussed the 5.9 GHz spectrum reallocation, autonomous vehicle testing and deployment, and the impact that COVID-19 is having on transportation. Panel topics included changes in litigation as ADAS expands, cybersecurity concerns, public acceptance of autonomous and electric vehicles, infrastructure considerations, and ‘Mobility Blues’, the signature panel of the year that questioned whether connected and autonomous vehicles will solve all of our transportation woes. In the closing remarks, CCAT Director Professor Henry Liu provided his view on the state of the CAV development and suggested accelerating the CAV deployment through more investment and infrastructure support.
In the hopes of keeping the transportation conversation alive for as many people as possible, CCAT made the event entirely free. The event successfully delivered these thought-provoking discussions to over 649 unique viewers across the 9-hour day. They received a large viewership from outside the States including Chile, Germany, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. While many may have preferred an in-person event, the success of the Global Symposium proves that organizations can provide a unique, large-scale experience entirely online. People who were not able to participate in the symposium can view the entire Symposium in their own time by going to the CCAT Playlist on YouTube.