Get Ready to Manage an Autonomous Vehicle Project

Google Driverless Car

Google prototype

The same people who funded the research that led to the Internet, the U.S.government, are about to invest $3.9 billion in research on autonomous vehicle development. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx appeared at the Detroit Auto Show to announce a budget proposal that will spread the funding over ten years, and “accelerate the development and adoption of safe vehicle automation through real-world pilot projects.”

“We are on the cusp of a new era in automotive technology with enormous potential to save lives, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and transform mobility for the American people,” said Secretary Foxx. And everyone else, since consumer technology developed in the U.S. will be sold all over the world, as it always has been.

Autonomous Tech

Take a moment to think about the technologies that are converging to produce a vehicle which drives itself, reliably and efficiently, safely and affordably. From visual and auditory recognition (not just speech, but sounds) to machine learning, continuous risk assessment and management to efficient route selection. GPS is about navigation; extend that to lane-selection strategy. And then there’s peer-to-peer networking, based on location, direction, and velocity. If debris falls onto the road, nearby cars will caution other vehicles headed toward it, well before they can see it, and alert a specialized vehicle that will automatically remove it, quickly and safely, without interrupting the flow of traffic.

Changing When Things Get Done

Rush hour traffic will be reduced, because more activities will become asynchronous. Cars will top off their own gas tanks while you’re sleeping, schedule their own maintenance, drive to Jiffy Lube, and return. Retail stores and supermarkets will have their stock delivered and gas stations will have their storage tanks topped up off-hours, with no humans involved. Your car will coordinate with the vehicle delivering your groceries, so it arrives at your home at the same time you do. Residential snail mail and package delivery will occur overnight. Airport parking lots will be re-purposed. Uber will need a new business model.

The Opportunities for Project Managers

This isn’t just about auto manufacturers. There will be boundless opportunities for technology project managers who understand these applications and how they will be used by everyone from the military to school districts, trucking firms to fire departments, construction companies to emergency medical services companies. We understand the potential information security issues and how to non-destructively test software-intensive systems. We get the complexities of scheduling, issue and risk management, and reporting progress on developmental systems. We know how to engage stakeholders and deal with compliance across multiple jurisdictions. We understand how the economics, the ethical issues, and the organization’s strategic goals need to drive the decisions we present to our sponsors. This is just an extension of what we’ve been doing for some time now, but the impact of this work will be global.

Someday soon, you may have a chauffeur named Watson. Let’s help him get to work.

I’m Presenting at the CAMPIT Portfolio and Program Management Conference

Status

I’ve been invited to present at the CAMP IT Portfolio / Program Management Conference to be conducted in Las Vegas, June 18 – 19, 2015. I’ll be presenting on our portfolio management approach and lessons learned from my time at MGM Resorts International. When I joined, we had 23 various properties, each with it’s own HR,Payroll, and timekeeping solution. My assignment was to merge them, so we could eventually implement a new ERP.

If you plan to attend, let me know. I’ll load up my Starbucks card and treat whoever shows up and mentions that you read about the event on my blog.

 

Must-read Articles, on PM for the Masses Podcasts

Garage BandI’ve been listening and linking to Cesar Abeid’s Project Management for the Masses podcasts for some time now. Last summer, he invited me to be a part of his “Project Management for You” interview series, and I invested in his Kickstarter campaign, to fund the writing of his book by the same name. So when he asked me to act as a “correspondent” for his podcasts, reporting on the must-read articles for the past week, I naturally agreed!

Each week, I send Cesar a recording to include at the end of his podcast, describing the three articles that most deserve your attention. I go into a bit more descriptive detail in the recording than I do in the blog posts, because I have a bit more time available. And because I’m a wise-ass, I include audio snippets from films and television that add a bit of color commentary. All of this over a low-volume Memphis blues riff. Typically two minutes or so, and safe for work. I’m sure Dr. Demento would approve.

I hope you enjoy this new outlet for my creativity, and take a moment to give me some feedback, in comments either here or at PM for the Masses.