Two instructors from OSU Institute of Technology’s School of Automotive Technologies had the opportunity to learn about the future of the industry at the Self Drive Sinclair annual conference.
Pro-Tech instructor Ryan Lasarsky and General Motors Automotive Service Educational Program (ASEP) instructor Joe Coleman were two of the 40 automotive instructors from across the country selected to attend the conference held this year from July 30 through Aug. 3.
The Self Drive Sinclair conference is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation and held at the Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio.
Many of the world’s major car manufacturers had representatives at the conference talking about the latest in self-driving technology and the future of autonomous vehicles.
“I went into it with no expectations,” Lasarsky said. “There was a lot of hands-on stuff. Some sessions on basic autonomous systems and then some manufacturer-specific sessions on what they’re coming out with in the future in terms of self-driving systems.”
Autonomous-driving systems are already in our cars and trucks, Coleman said, including lane assist, park assist and emergency braking.
“It’s about building consumer confidence. Companies are adding a system each time to get the public used to it,” he said.
The two also got to ride as passengers in fully autonomous vehicles.
“It’s wild to ride in a car going 30 mph driving straight toward a wall, and it stopped itself,” Coleman said.
Lasarsky said there are five levels of autonomy in vehicles— level one has no self-driving systems at all while level five is fully autonomous.
“This is going to prevent an accident. And if it doesn’t, it will mitigate how severe the accident could be,” he said. “They have computers on these vehicles that work faster than our brains ever could. These cars are out there to make you safer. And we need to be on the forefront.”
Both said they are still processing all they learned at the conference and how to take what they learned and incorporate it into the school’s programs.
“I’m still buffering, like a computer. I’m still absorbing it all,” Lasarsky said. “It was motivating to be around all these instructors who want to make their programs better. It makes me want to make my program better.”
The next step is working with car manufacturers to get the latest models on campus and into the labs so students can learn these self-driving systems.
Coleman said he’s already planning on incorporating these systems and technology into his curriculum in the fall.
“It will definitely affect how we teach and what we teach. We try to give these students the best education we can,” Coleman said. “We just need to get the word out that we know about this technology, we’re learning about it and we’re teaching it.”