Will Massachusetts be a Player in Self-Driving Cars? Daniela Rus Says We Have To Be

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Image credit: UC San Diego

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) is one of many local organizations expanding the field of research and design in IoT and autonomous machines. We spoke with CSAIL’s Director, Daniela Rus, about the future of self-driving cars and what Massachusetts can do to be a leader in this sector.

What do you think will be the biggest innovations in IoT and autonomous machines the next 10 years? Self-driving cars (with a graded degree of autonomy and scope of performance — eg. campuses and retirement communities first, highways later), manufacturing, home applications

Where do you think there are areas of opportunity for Massachusetts companies to lead? Given Toyota’s recent move to MA I believe the automotive sector is very important. Also manufacturing and logistics. 

What are the biggest challenges now and in the foreseeable future for developing and deploying smart connected devices? Machines need more reliable comms, and more intuitive interactions with users. Machines need to get better at figuring things out. 

How do you see the use of data influencing future innovations or sector growth? Data is driving a lot of innovation in many sectors and will continue to do so. 

What legislative policies are having the biggest impact on IoT and other connected devices like self-driving cars, etc. and why? We need MA to resolve the case for autonomous driving, especially in light of the new DOT announcement supporting level 5 autonomy. MA also has a great opportunity to participate in the new NIST Manufacturing Innovation Institute and this requires support from the leadership.

What are you most excited about that you’re working on now? The car that will never be responsible for an accident and become your friend.

How do you see autonomous vehicles and other smart connect devices influencing the future of transportation and the development of smart cities? It is already happening and MA needs to be part of it. Cars will be safe. Cars will be intelligent and partner with their drivers to help and support them.