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Driving the future

October 14, 2018

Dalton Curtis gave a presentation on “Autonomous Driving: The Future of Automotive Travel” at the College Street Brewhouse and Pub on Wednesday for about 60 creative professionals, entrepreneurs and students who drank beer and dined on plates of pizza and macaroni and cheese.

His speech was a program of the Creative Comrades, a group of professionals and innovators in many fields curious to learn from each other. They meet on the second Wednesday of every month at the brewery. They educate, inspire and help each other.

“The thing I would like people to know is that the future is already here,” Curtis said. “We’re basically living in it.” Like his listeners, Curtis sipped beer, wore shorts and flip flops in a comfortable and friendly atmosphere that can only be described as “Havasu Casual” at its best.

There was nothing casual about his presentation, however, or the information he shared. The lecture and power point slides would have inspired and educated executives in a boardroom on Wall Street. Curtis has a degree in mechanical engineering from Arizona State University and is currently the test engineering supervisor for Chrysler at the Arizona Proving Grounds in Yucca.

He varied his pace and scope, taking the listeners into the weeds on “nerdy” topics and then vaulting them to 4,000 feet to see the big picture, analyzing the technological, social and economic implications of driverless cars.

The 2005 graduate of Lake Havasu High School said that autonomous cars are loaded with sensors to take in the world around them. They have radar, sonar, computer vision, Lidar, GPS and control systems that allow them to navigate paths while avoiding obstacles. They will generate about 4,000 gigabytes of data per day. To put that in perspective, if every word a man spoke was recorded in high definition, he would have to live 100 years to generate 4,000 gigabytes of data.

Driverless cars may take some getting used to. Surveys indicate that the number one reason people wouldn’t want a car that drives itself is because they wouldn’t feel safe, while 30 percent of those surveyed still liked to drive a car because they enjoyed it.

Curtis guesses that within the next 20 years the majority of the conversion to autonomous technology will take place. He also suggested there would be no need for parking lots or to get a driver’s license in a world with self-driving cars. One thing is for certain: With driverless cars, road rage will be a thing of the past.

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