Interview with Shane Gilroy, Lecturer in Connected and Autonomous Vehicles IT Sligo.

What is your background briefly?

I am an Electronics Engineer, I graduated from IT Sligo in 2008 and spent the next 8 years as an Electronics Design Engineer in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand primarily on the design of smart technologies for the Automotive and Medical Industries. I conducted my Master’s Degree part time in 2016 focusing on camera design for driver assistance systems. I am currently undertaking a PhD in Electrical and Electronic Engineering specialising in the design of pedestrian and cyclist detection systems for autonomous vehicles.

Does it seem like a logical background to what you do now?

We live in an exciting time in that many different technologies that have been developed over the last few decades have matured and converged at this point to accelerate the development of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles. Automotive technology has morphed from a primarily mechanical feat to an electronics and software field. In this way my background has prepared me to take advantage of these new developments as they occurred. I believe that a degree in a core engineering discipline such as Electronic Engineering is future proof, as you can simply apply your previous experience to a new field as new trends emerge. 

1 min pitch for what you are doing now?

IT Sligo have developed the world’s first online Master’s Degree in Connected and Autonomous Vehicles. This programme, developed in conjunction Kempten University of Applied Sciences and industry partners such as Jaguar Land Rover, Valeo Vision Systems, Analog Devices, BMW and Continental AG, brings together interdisciplinary engineering concepts such as machine learning, vehicle dynamics and critical safety systems to prepare graduates for senior roles in the design of technology for connected and autonomous vehicles.

How soon will we see large scale adoption of self-driving vehicles in Ireland, how many (what %) how soon?

Many semi-autonomous features such as adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist and parking assistance systems are already available new vehicles purchased in Ireland in 2018. Automotive manufacturers have pledged to make Automotive Emergency Braking standard on all vehicles by 2022. The technical capability for full self-driving vehicles in Ireland will likely be as soon as 2030 however the most significant obstacle to large scale adoption of self-driving vehicles is government legislation. A lot of work needs to be carried out regarding the regulations for use and licencing of self-driving vehicles here in Ireland.

The biggest motivation for development of this legislation will be road safety. The Road Safety Authority recently announced that the number of road deaths in Ireland in 2018 were at the lowest since records began with 149 fatalities. With continued adoption of autonomous safety systems and timely legislation regarding self-driving cars, there is no reason why we can’t have zero road deaths in Ireland by 2030.

In relation to range anxiety, we have seen chargers on the Cork-Dublin route, in Dublin, Cork, do we have an adequate national charging network yet for electric vehicles? IF not, then how soon?

The development of connected, self-driving vehicles is not exclusively tied to electric vehicles. These technologies can be applied to any vehicle however the most likely outcome is that vehicle electrification will begin to dominate over the next decade as we reduce our dependence on petrol and diesel technologies.

Ireland is unfortunately slow in the roll out of vehicle charging points and for commuters outside of our largest cities a fully electric vehicle is still not yet a feasible option. Hybrid vehicles are a welcome intermittent step and it is expected that the continued growth in Hybrid Electric Vehicles will bridge the gap until the necessary infrastructure and battery technology is available. 

Recently the major car producers have upped their game in relation to the challenge by Tesla, what brands might come to dominate in Ireland & why? & how soon?

There are many new companies in development of self-driving vehicles such as Waymo, Faraday Future, Aptiv etc. however the most likely outcome will be an incorporation of this technology by the brands we are familiar with today. Current automotive manufacturers such as Toyota, BMW, Volvo, Jaguar Land Rover etc. are all in development of self-driving technologies through acquiring and partnering with new technology companies. I would expect that in terms of vehicle brands, the landscape will not be too dissimilar to what we currently have today.

How secure are the OS for these emerging technologies? Is a hacked national gridlock likely or not?

Cybersecurity is a massive concern for any safety critical application not just self-driving vehicles. This is a large open area of research and like any security application will continue to be developed and reinforced as we come up with novel ways to test current systems. A hacked national gridlock is unlikely but issues such as data protection, personal security and protecting the integrity of data to and from the vehicle control are critical and will be thoroughly enforced before vehicles are rolled out. 

How can people find out more about you & your work?

More information can be found on the IT Sligo website and I can be reached on [email protected].

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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