San Francisco was recently home to the 2018 SEMICON West conference, a global event that brings together the major players in the semiconductor industry. Running from July 10-12, the second day featured a keynote speech titled “The Future of Autonomy: Semiconductors in the Driver’s Seat,” by Wolfgang Juchmann, PhD, Vice President Business Development, AutonomouStuff.

Juchmann made quite an entrance as he was escorted onstage in a self-driving car. Although not fully autonomous, the vehicle was remotely control by an engineer in Silicon Valley, who had dominion over the steering, acceleration, braking, and cameras. The off-site engineer was able to use all this data to make informative decisions in real time. Now that’s a way to start off a keynote address.

“We’re in a brave new world. We’re in the transportation revolution at the moment right now,” says Juchmann.

The keynote speaker asked the crowd if they came to this event in their own personal car, and found themselves stuck in the slow moving San Francisco traffic. The inquiry was followed by a swelling roar of assent. Juchmann says it’s one of his ambitions to eliminate this mundane task from our lives.

Juchmann’s place of work, AutonomouStuff, is taking major strides toward accomplishing this goal. The company provides businesses with specialized products and services to accomplish their projects and reach autonomy faster.

“AutonomouStuff is the leader in supplying components, engineering services, and software that enable autonomy. We take advantage of today's most innovative technologies to help ensure your success,” according to the company’s website.

AutonomouStuff also distributes a fleet of vehicles and research and development (R&D) platforms that are pre-configured with customized sensors tailored to work within the client’s intended environment.

“We were enabling many different industries for many years even before self-driving cars became popular. It’s in our DNA to stay ahead of the curve and reduce their development time, which allows them to concentrate on what they want to do,” explains Juchmann. The goal is to participate in the fourth industrial revolution instead of becoming one of its victims.

Juchmann asked another question to the crowd, imploring why he’s speaking about self-driving cars at SEMICON West. What is the connection between semiconductors and autonomous vehicles?

Juchamnn believes the future of mobility will greatly expand the production of silicon through automotive applications. While traditional industries are reducing silicon, the automotive industry offers a large opportunity for the semiconductor industry to grow.

The sensors in self-driving cars, like lidar, radar, cameras, and ultrasonic devices, all use silicon and rely on semiconductor technology. These features are needed to capture and understand exactly what is going on around the vehicle. To achieve full awareness, neural networks need sufficient processing power in order to train for real-time decision making scenarios.

Juchmann champions an integral connection between autonomy and the semiconductor industry, believing their bond is the key to future innovations.