Advanced Technology is Invisible - The Road to Autonomy

Advanced Technology is Invisible

John Hayes, Founder & CEO, Ghost Autonomy joined Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy podcast to discuss why advanced technology is invisible and how Ghost plans to scale autonomous driving.

The conversation begins with John discussing the founding of Pure Storage and what he say in the market when he founded that company and how that compares to the founding of Ghost Autonomy.

Our data storage company was actually founded on the basis of trends and consumer technology.

– John Hayes

Similar to the way that storage was changing, John saw an opportunity to build a new modern autonomy stack that was not built on the DARPA Urban Challenge stack, but one that was based on consumer technology.

Let’s look at what emerging trends are out there in hardware and where can we make smart software and what industry can we go into.

– John Hayes

When Ghost first started to develop their autonomy stack, they started with a stereo camera-only approach and in the middle of 2021, they added radar to the stack.

The direction we took with radar was to go in a software defined direction.

– John Hayes

One of the main defining aspects of the Ghost Autonomy stack is that they have engineered the stack to make it as invisible as possible. In addition to being almost invisible, the stack operates on low-power which will allow electric vehicles running their autonomy system to have more range. The hardware running on this low-power compute are four camera pairs and one high-resolution radar pointing forward.

From a use-case scenario Ghost has engineered an SAE Level 4 design for highway use and an SAE Level 2 design for non-highway use.

It’s a rolling ODD where you increase the competence at slower and slower speeds over time.

– John Hayes

Comparing and contrasting the Ghost Autonomy system to a traditional SAE Level 2 system, the system is more intuitive.

From the user experience point of view, we focus very much on a concept system called collaborative driving, where there isn’t a button that you push to activate it. You are on the highway, it says you can drive anytime you want by turning and indicator blue and you let go of the steering wheel and it turns green. And you do not set anything, the car just goes and picks a reasonable speed and a reasonable following distance.

– John Hayes

This is built on John’s fundamental belief that that advanced technology is invisible in a way. The Ghost system does not have button or nobs, the system just works. Today a human has to click the ticker to change lanes, but in the future Ghost is working on a navigation system where the vehicle will simply just change the lane without being promoted to by the driver.

I want to make the system extremely scalable so that you wouldn’t have to enter a destination to activate it. You just start driving and if you just want to let go of the wheel for 30 seconds to send a text, that’s a perfectly valid way to interact with the system.

– John Hayes

From a business standpoint, Ghost is going to commercialize the product by licensing their software to OEMs.

Wrapping up the conversation, John discusses the future of Ghost Autonomy.

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Recorded on Friday, April 7, 2023