On January 18, 2024, NIST welcomed Dr. Paul Perrone, Founder and CEO of Perrone Robotics, Inc., to give a NIST Colloquium presentation on “Autonomous Vehicles: The World’s Most Complicated Technical Problem.” During his visit, Perrone had discussions with representatives of NIST’s Automated Vehicle program, including David Wollman, Ed Griffor, Tom Roth, and Prem Rachakonda, and with other NIST officials including Laurie Locascio, NIST Director and Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology, and Chuck Romaine, NIST Associate Director for Laboratory Programs.
Perrone’s presentation made the case that the overwhelming challenges and difficulties of developing autonomous vehicles (AVs) made it the world’s most complicated technical problem, based on Perrone’s extensive experience in the broad field of automation. Perrone covered a comprehensive list of AV complexities, including hardware and software adaptation, expanding and evolving operational design domains, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, human interactions with AVs, and edge cases. He also provided mitigations and a potential trajectory for successful AV development including multiple time phases and well-defined control zones, along with advancements in use of AI, increased standardization, and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications. The presentation was followed by a lively question and answer session, including on human factors considerations and challenges.