After five years of storage run, Harness begins its second half of autonomous driving

“When autonomous driving comes to the second half, technology and algorithms are no longer the decisive issue.”

The first time I saw Harness Technology’s L4 autonomous driving solution was four years ago. Still in a very cute modified golf cart, Harness Technology installed LIDAR in the front of the car, and then added several cameras in the front, middle and rear positions for visual assistance.

The way to use is also very interesting: after shopping in Hangzhou Raffles Mall, you can call the unmanned car on the machine at the entrance of the basement, enter your license plate, it will come to pick you up and send you to the closest location to your parking space.

The CEO of Harness Technology, Wu Gansha, had a comment that impressed me at the time, saying that being driverless is a long run of about ten years. So the golf cart that is being transformed, although it looks quite primitive, but in fact the main thing is to simulate the scene first, the infrastructure of the future unmanned operation of the scene to make up, with the scene and data, after non-stop iterations and modifications, after the scene run through you can talk about the scale of things.

It is interesting to note that the TIC conference held by Pin Play in the past two years, in fact, almost every year will set some autonomous driving topics, and each time will also do some communication with companies like Harness Technology. If you compare the views of each year, in fact, you can also see how much the technology of driverless in the industry development.

After five years of storage run, Harness begins its second half of autonomous driving

Peng Progress, co-founder and chief system architect of Harness Technology
For example, in previous years, autonomous driving technology was mainly talking about productization and technical issues such as LIDAR and data redundancy, and later talked about business class topics such as driverless leading business innovation, etc. In recent years, as many autonomous driving companies have driven their cars on the roads of economic development zones, ordinary people have also been integrated into the big topic of autonomous driving.

From a broader view of the changes in the autonomous driving industry, we are still in the first stage: the technology leading stage. Usually, a technology that has a strong correlation with people’s livelihood and society wants to be developed rapidly, and probably has to go through several stages of technology maturity, commercialization maturity, and related supporting laws and regulations maturity, one of the three is indispensable.

But in the last one or two years of autonomous driving seminars, “technology is ready” is actually the most spoken phrase by many practitioners in the autonomous driving industry, how to achieve scale is an important issue in the second half of autonomous driving.

The co-founder and chief system architect of Harness Technology, Peng Progress, also said in an interview with Pin Play/Pin Drive at TIC 2021 PRO that the epidemic can be used as a dividing line, and the past ten years should be the first half of autonomous driving, mainly to solve the technical verification problem, and into the second half of autonomous driving, it is about how to commercialize technology and scale in parallel.

In this regard, the development path of Harness Technology in the past few years can really serve as a reference. Peng progress said that Harness Technology started to station at Hong Kong airport in 2017 to do unmanned logistics, and officially started the regular operation of unmanned logistics vehicles in Hong Kong airport in December 2019.

Two years, in fact, is the process of continuous iteration of technology and scenarios.

In terms of technology, the process of working together with customers to deepen the scene is actually the process that the company providing the technology must go to Know-How and eat the industry thoroughly. In this process will also produce some common things, such as common driverless algorithms and systems, some of the more common application cases.

“It’s actually one step forward, like six months later to see what results you can achieve, then set a standard and start taking the safety guys off.” He explained that “after taking the safety officer off and then running for six months to see how many bad weather you’ve experienced, typhoons, rainstorms, etc., and then providing a very complete report, it (Hong Kong airport) recognizes your report to issue you a qualification.”

On the scene, Hong Kong airport is actually a very busy scene, which has tens of thousands of aircraft, but also has a variety of proprietary vehicles, it is the world’s first logistics airport, the third largest cargo airport, and the internal level of security requirements are also very high, but also has a relatively unique rules in this scene.

Peng progress from the experience of the airport also talked about: a certain point of view, any standard development is the application of the promotion. If we compare the operation of Hong Kong airport “Airplane City” to a small society, in fact, it corresponds to some management and operation rules in our life, maybe it can also provide some reference.

For example, the operation of the airport actually has some commonality with the operation of external parks and factories – outside the Hong Kong airport, Harness Technology has already opened different parks with SAIC-GM-Wuling, FAW Logistics and Changan Minsheng Logistics, BASF and other customers for field operation. But if you compare the open road, the essential difference between them is – after a period of trial operation, whether they can follow up on a series of regulations. He said, “Actually, you can also see some laws and regulations are already in the making now.”

So what other prerequisites are needed to achieve the scaling effect of autonomous driving?

In his opinion, when autonomous driving comes to the second half, technology and algorithms are no longer decisive issues, but if the scenario is some passenger car scenario, the only limitation may still be the cost and revenue issue. “In specific scenarios, see if you can continue to optimize a more efficient business model.”

In this long run, Harness Technology has also adopted a two-tier operation strategy: on the one hand, it mainly develops L4-level autonomous driving technology for these vertical segmentation scenarios such as airport logistics and factory parks, and on the other hand, it also cooperates with Dongfeng Motor, a car manufacturer, in the passenger car business, to mass-produce autonomous driving systems as well as to build Robotaxi fleets.

In this process, the former will provide autonomous driving technology, algorithms and data and even capital deposits. Peng progress also suggested that the liberalization of the right-of-way of the open road will mean the arrival of real opportunities for larger scale commercialization.

This is also the second half of this marathon, “If we were all still in the stage of storage and running, now we may have to enter the midway, and maybe even to accelerate the stage of running, in order to win a better position before the arrival of the final challenge.”

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