Presentation of the documentary "The BrAIn Roads", on the process of creation of self-driving vehivles at the CVC
The Institute of Catalan Studies (IES) yesterday played host to the presentation of the documentary The BrAIn Roads, a production narrates the research conducted by members of the Computer Vision Centre (CVC) to manage to create a self-driving vehicle prepared to drive on rural roads.
The documentary The BrAIn Roads, a production by Minifilms TV, shows the results of the project “Advanced Digital Technologies on Self-Driving in Rural Environments”, funded by the Government of Catalonia and conducted by the CVC, with the collaboration of SEAT, Volkswagen adn the Fundació i2CAT with the aim of finding an economical and sustainable answer to the need for public transport in rural and more isolated areas. Through the prospecting of artificial intelligence research frameworks, the documentary transports the audience from the laboratories of the CVC to the field tests in the Alt Pirineu Natural Park through a journey of technological successes, difficulties and complexities the team encountered during the project. The scientific team was met with the challenge of having to conduct AI training on a narrow mountain road, with little visibility, adverse weather conditions and no phone coverage. A proof of concept that differs from many existing self-driving prototypes, most of which are designed to drive in urban settings.
CVC Director Josep Lladós presented the documentary as an example of “how a groups of scientists can push forward the frontiers of knowledge. This is research from the inside. It shows the values of research: cooperation, perseverance, talent, to overcome a challenge and mostly to make society advance”.
The presentation of the documentary, hosted by journalist Xantal Llavina, was followed by a round table on the future of self-driving, with the participation of Antonio M. López Peña, main researcher of the CVC project and ICREA Acadèmia lecturer at the UAB; Pilar Conesa, founder and president of Anteverti and commissioner of the Smart City Expo World Congress; Oriol Mas, technical coordinator of ADAS Parking & Innovation at SEAT/CUPRA; Guillem Esteban, president of the Entitat Municipal Descentralitzada d’Isil i Alós; and Pilar Dellunde, coordinator of the bachelor's degree in Philosophy at the UAB.
Pilar Conesa considered the project “a radical leap forward that open new options for rural environments”, an initiative that, according to Oriol Mas, is a nudge to industries to “take steps in this direction”. Experimental self-driving vehicles were tested in rural roads of Isil and Alós in the Pyrenees region, “a huge event for an area in which only 60 people live and without mobile phone coverage” stated Guillem Esteban.
The ethical implications of using artificial intelligence also formed part of the debate. According to Pilar Dellunde, “we need a more localised ethical argument, without having to always connect artificial intelligence with apocalyptic discourses”. “The documentary contributes to giving a realistic view of this technology, with many positive values behind it", she adds, and goes on to say, “it is very interesting to think how those who will benefit from this react to it”.
Antonio López highlighted that to manage to get this solution to be applied and available in other areas “is possible, but it is not easy. We started with an academic approach and searched for the most economical, efficient and easy-to-maintain system. The solution was to base it all on the use of camaras. This was the big challenge and we managed it with a positive and well planned out collaboration between industry, university and region.” *In the words of Oriol Mas “it would be a dream for the industry to make this work in all possible situations and with only the use of a camara”. Mas declared that it would be very positive to include “trial sandbox environments in our cities to make self-driving cars circulate and provide data for AI systems”. This is a demand also shared by Pilar Conesa, who considered that “Barcelona has the opportunity to provide a sandbox within the mobility area, since it already includes innovation in mobility as a key theme of the city”.
UAB Vice Rector for Research Assumpció Malgosa participated in the debate, in which she pointed out that “the university must face challenges posed by our citizens and contribute to solving them as directly as possible, conducting basic science and also science focused on society”. An approach that “already existed since day one as part of the philosophy of the CVC”, according to founding director of the CVC, UAB emeritus professor Juan José Villanueva, who went on to say that “conducting basic science of course, but with the idea of reaching society and including their demands to foster basic research within a close loop”.
For more information on the documentary please visit the website:
The UAB, with Sustainable Development Goals
- Reduced inequalities
- Industry, innovation and infrastructure
- Sustainable cities and communities
- Partnerships for the goals