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Chris Gerdes  

Director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford

Chris Gerdes is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus, at Stanford University and Co-Director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS). His laboratory studies how cars move, how humans drive cars and how to design future cars that work cooperatively with the driver or drive themselves. He can often be found at the racetrack with students, trying out their latest prototypes for the future.

Vehicles in the lab include X1, an entirely student-built test vehicle; Niki, a Volkswagen GTI capable of turning a competitive lap time around the track without a human driver; and Marty, our electrified, automated, drifting DeLorean.

Gerdes' interests in vehicle safety extend to ethics and government policy, having helped to develop the US Federal Automated Vehicle Policy while serving as the first Chief Innovation Officer of the US Department of Transportation. He also serves as Safety Advisor to Ford Next.

Speech Topics

How safe is safe enough?

How safe should automated vehicles be? While there are numerous answers to this question, one in particular stands out – the answer implicit in our current traffic code and legal system. Looking at automated vehicles from the perspective of the Duty of Care placed on human drivers, we can derive engineering requirements for safe roads and even resolve the troublesome “Trolley Car” problem. Going further, experiments from the track suggest that future cars will be able to handle emergency maneuvers with the skill of a race driver. Taken together, we can envision automated vehicles that always uphold their duty to others and do their best to avoid crashes when others aren’t so careful.

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