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Speakers and Presentation Topics

LIDAR in drone applications: lessons and insights for automotive system makers
Tom Brady
Co-Founder and CTO

For decades, LIDAR sensing has been at the core of robotics and automation. LIDAR allows for extremely high sensing rates when compared to sound-based methods, while offering drastically reduced computational complexity when compared to vision-based approaches. These two benefits -- high throughput and low computational complexity -- are key advantages for LIDAR in the highly dynamic environments experienced by autonomous vehicles and autonomous drones. We use LIDAR-equipped drones to do autonomous inspections of wind turbines. With our approach, we fuse LIDAR information with GPS, inertial, and other sensory data to construct three-dimensional maps of wind turbines in real time. Our drones use this 3D map to intelligently plan their mission and movement throughout the world. In this talk, we will walk through key learnings when dealing with LIDAR in commercial drone applications, as well as share some insights and suggestions for designing LIDAR sensors into autonomous vehicles. We will also share our perspective on the emerging LIDAR technologies and applications.

Biography: Tom Brady is the CTO and co-founder of SkySpecs, an Ann Arbor-based startup with the mission to completely automate diagnostics and maintenance of renewable energy infrastructure. The company currently serves the wind industry with an autonomous blade inspection solution. With the push of a single button, SkySpecs’ drones are deployed to collect pictures that wind turbine owners can use to assess the health of their blades. Since launching their commercial product in 2016, SkySpecs has inspected nearly 15,000 blades across 6 countries and is playing an integral role in the maintenance cycle for some of the world’s top renewable energy companies. Tom has led SkySpecs’ engineering team since 2014, guiding product development and strategy for the company’s autonomous inspection system and web-based analytics platform. Tom holds two degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan, is an Endeavor Entrepreneur, and was named one of Forbes "30 Under 30" in 2016.

The Role of LIDAR in Multi-Modal, High-Reliability Sensin
Ed Olson, PhD
Co-Founder and CEO
May Mobility

Developing autonomous vehicles that can operate at very high reliabilities (e.g., one failure per billion miles) requires sensor performance that cannot generally be obtained from a single sensor. In this talk, we describe approaches to developing integrated sensing systems by combining LIDAR with other sensor modalities (e.g. radar), and the usefulness of using multiple types of LIDAR sensors within a single system. Fundamentally, the sensing system must be able to detect, identify, and track objects at long ranges. Ultimately, better systems allow better predictions of a target’s future behavior, enabling a self-driving vehicle to produce better plans. We will describe some of the strengths and weaknesses of currently-available sensor systems and show how careful system design can achieve high performance in real-world conditions at price points that allow autonomous vehicles to be not only safe but also economically viable.

Biography: Edwin Olson is an Associate Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at the University of Michigan, and co-founder/CEO of May Mobility, Inc., which develops self-driving shuttles. He earned his PhD from MIT in 2008 for work in robot mapping. He has worked on autonomous vehicles for over a decade, including work on the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge, vehicles for Ford and Toyota Research Institute, and now May Mobility. His academic research includes work on perception, planning, and mapping. He was awarded a DARPA Young Faculty Award, named one of Popular Science's "Brilliant 10", and was winner of the 2010 MAGIC robotics competition. He is perhaps best known for his work on AprilTags, SLAM using MaxMixtures and SGD, and Multi-Policy Decision Making.

Technology Showcase Presenters

Vivek Moudgal
Vice President of Sales

Wade Appelman
Vice President Sales and Marketing

Jane Zhang
Surestar Technology

Luke Smithwic
Chief Marketing Officer

Startup Showcase Presenters

Showcase speakers coming soon.

Call for Speakers

If you’d like to participate as a speaker, please call Jessica Ingram at 360-929-0114 or send a brief email with your proposed presentation topic to All speakers will receive a complimentary pass to the conference.

Workshop and conference scope includes topics related to LIDAR in automotive applications, such as:

  • Expert reviews and analyses of state-of-the-art LIDAR technologies
  • Business trends, market projections, M&A developments, and startup activity
  • LIDAR data fusion with other types of sensors such as radar and camera
  • Impacts of enabling technologies such as artificial intelligence
  • Notable academic research related to LIDAR for automotive applications
  • LIDAR data processing techniques and algorithms
  • Supply chain trends and challenges, government regulations, and mandates
  • Fabrication, packaging, and system assembly techniques
  • Reliability testing methodologies and techniques
  • Technology transfer, ecosystems and research hubs, company formation