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Autonomous Vehicles Interview with Mark Altman

Autonomous Vehicles Interview with Mark Altman

June 21, 2017

Mark Altman, Senior Director, Legal, NVIDIA Corporation

Personally, what is the most interesting aspect in the convergence of the tech and automobile sectors?

For me, because the technology in the space is reaching such a high level of sophistication, the most interesting aspect is the opportunity for technology to improve the transportation industry for all in such a meaningful way.  Besides the opportunity to save lives and save time with autonomous cars, reducing the number of cars that need to be maintained, insured, parked, etc. leaves us with a lot of economic, environmental and societal benefits, some of which we cannot even imagine today.
What are the challenges facing the autonomous vehicle industry?

I think the biggest challenge facing the industry is until the technology is fully proven out to have an extremely low error rate, it will always be under the microscope.  Every time an autonomous car has an accident it is front page news, and to make consumers feel completely comfortable with the technology they need to be shown how safe it is.  NVIDIA is working on this problem every day.
How will cybersecurity play into the autonomous vehicle industry in the coming years?

I think cybersecurity is a major part of demonstrating to the consumer that the technology is safe.  Besides the obvious concern about an outside party potentially being able to take control of a car, the car will begin to know more and more about the consumer and this information must be kept secure to encourage people to fully engage and enjoy the autonomous driving experience.
What are the next steps in the development of federal and state regulations in the self-driving industry?

There has to be a greater level of consistency in the regulatory environment.  State laws for autonomous vehicle technology development and operation vary greatly (and in some cases do not exist), as evidenced by Uber’s decision to test their autonomous cars in Arizona after initially beginning tests in California.  Once a consistent framework is developed and adopted on both the state and federal level, development efforts by technology and auto companies can move forward with more certainty.
How did you initially get involved in this industry and what do you love about it?

In my former life as a securities attorney, I would have never imagined being involved with the automotive industry.  When I joined NVIDIA in 2007 the company was already working on automotive technologies, and the company needed an attorney to get involved with our auto teams to help grow the business; I was fortunate to be given the role.  It has been both interesting and rewarding helping NVIDIA’s auto business grow from the stage it was at almost a decade ago to today, where our products now have reached a point where they are used in autonomous driving applications and are featured in cars by so many different automakers.