Keynote: Robert Neff “Autonomous Vehicles, Their Legacy and Future”

robert neff

Autonomous vehicles were successfully demonstrated to be technologically feasible on an automated highway during the National Automated Highway Demonstration that took place in San Diego in 1997. However concerns over funding the construction of automated lanes of traffic and driver willingness to buy cars that would operate in these lanes became apparent. As a result, the focus of product development changed from automated highways to autonomous vehicles that could operate on today’s highways and traffic patterns.

The Federal Government funded contests like The DARPA Challenge and university research grants. Companies, such as Google, entered the arena along with research funded by major auto makers.

On the other hand are we ready to accept this technology? A late 2014 Harris Poll for Auto Trader surveyed 1033 drivers and found that 65% of vehicle owners think self-driving cars are a dangerous idea. Yet 61% say they are likely to consider a model with autonomous safety features like park assist and collision avoidance on their next purchase. Auto companies are offering more and more automated features but with the technology come more complicated operating instructions.

What will our life be like with autonomous vehicles? It’s not likely to be utopia for there are new concerns that will have to be considered.

Bob’s multimedia presentation describes:

  •   Review of the factors influencing automated features that have evolved since the demonstration in 1997

o   Military involvement

o   Automotive  Manufacturers Involvement

o   Federal Communications Commission Involvement

o   US Department of Transportation Involvement

  •   Education of today’s drivers with introductions of automated features
  •   How vehicle to vehicle communication will facilitate the future of autonomous vehicles
  •   Offer a future vision of what life could be like with autonomous vehicles.

Note: This presentation begins where the Historical Look at Autonomous Vehicles presentation leaves off.


Speaker Profile – Robert Neff

Bob is engaged in Sales and Marketing for companies involved in high technology products, projects and people. Sales and Marketing Insight is Bob’s strategic marketing company.

Bob is a corporate officer in the Intrass Corporation, which is a startup company involved in patented 5.9 GHz Dedicated Short Range Radio (DSRC) technology for Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communications that accomplish vehicle collision warning applications.

Bob is Chairman of the SAE J2735 DSRC Vehicle Safety Subcommittee and is a member of the SAE J2735 DSRC Standard Technical Committee that has written the interoperability standard for V2V communication so vehicle manufacturers may communicate with each other.

Bob retired from Eaton Corporation where he held various technical, marketing and managerial positions. The majority of Bob’s time at Eaton was spent in the VORAD Division working on collision warning, adaptive cruise control and blind spot warning using 24 GHz and 77GHz radar. Bob was Technical Lead for Eaton’s participation in the National Automated Highway Demonstration in 1997. Bob earned his Six Sigma Black Belt while at Eaton.

Following Eaton, Bob was part of the management team that established the Automotive Electromagnetic Compatibility Laboratory for Underwriters Laboratories in Novi, Michigan.

Bob serves as Chairman of IEEE South Eastern Michigan (SEM) Section and as Marketing Chairman of IEEE SEM EMC Society. Bob was Marketing Chairman for the International Electromagnetic Compatibility Symposium at Detroit Cobo Center in August of 2008. Bob is also Marketing Chairman for the Professional Ski Instructors of America / American Association of Snowboard Instructors Central Division and a member of their Board of Directors. Bob is a Level II Certified and Advanced Accredited ski instructor actively teaching at Mt. Brighton and at Beaver Creek Colorado in the Spring.

Bob Graduated from Ferris State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business and an Associate in Arts Degree while studying Engineering.