Revolutionising Mobility: Cron AI and Autonomy Institute Leading the Way with Intelligent Infrastructure

Cron AI
5 min readOct 4, 2023

In an era defined by rapid technological and artificial intelligence (AI) advancements, the way we think about mobility is undergoing a profound transformation. The true potential of any level of autonomy in mobility can only be fully realised through a fundamental shift — one that necessitates the convergence of intelligent infrastructure and cutting-edge technology.

The advent of autonomy in the shape of robotaxis isn’t a thing of the future. However, incidents as recent as August 2023 exposed the stark consequences of self-driving robotaxis coming to a halt, causing gridlock and obstructing emergency response efforts.[1] In San Francisco alone, the police department documented nearly 40 cases of robotaxis disrupting firefighting operations.[2] While this does indeed raise significant concerns regarding the broader deployment of self-driving robotaxis, it also underscores the imperative for automated driving to collaborate closely with infrastructure rather than functioning in isolation.

The predicament is multi-faceted and raises concerns about the effectiveness of our present ‘blind’ infrastructure — a system that operates in the dark, lacks in providing the basic intelligence needed to optimize traffic flow, resulting in wasted hours, fuel consumption, and a surge in greenhouse emissions, thus, miles away from providing additional complementary sensing information to self-driving vehicles. The gap between our current infrastructure and autonomy is striking. The glaring absence of smart infrastructure is evident in the staggering number of lives lost due to preventable accidents — a stark reminder that the dream of autonomy within this framework appears distant and fraught with challenges.

While sensors mounted on self-driving vehicles offer valuable insights into their surroundings, they often encounter gaps, what are commonly referred to as ‘corner cases’ or exceptional scenarios. Let’s face it, in the real, dynamic, messy world, these ‘corner cases’ aren’t exceptions but actual gaps that can, and do, disrupt self-driving car algorithms, sometimes leading to accidents. As the saying goes, ‘better is the enemy of good’, many of these gaps can be filled by additional information about the world that can be provided to these self-driving vehicles by smart sensors installed on roadside infrastructure. However, as the world realizes the same and moves towards advanced automated mobility, a pressing question emerges:

Is our existing infrastructure prepared to provide this information and thereby support the dawn of autonomous vehicles?

While the journey towards autonomy is marked by innovation, the readiness of our current infrastructure remains a concern. Is the framework that sustains our present mobility smart enough to accommodate the promising future of autonomy?

Cron AI, in partnership with the Autonomy Institute, is at the forefront of addressing a critical challenge in modern mobility — the “information” gap. Whether it’s a human-driven vehicle or a self-driving one, understanding the surrounding environment is paramount. We recognize that vehicles need to anticipate events at least 250 meters ahead, and onboard sensors, while essential, often fall short, leaving gaps in information. This is where intelligent infrastructure sensors can and should come into play, bridging this information gap through “sensor sharing.”

“Sensor sharing is the bridge between automated driving and roadside infrastructure. Cron AI’s patented information fusion system, fuses sensor information rather than raw data or object data, effectively enabling sensor sharing between autonomous vehicles and roadside infrastructure, thereby opening doors to higher levels of safe automated driving.” — Saurav Agarwala, CTO, Cron AI.

By collaborating with the vehicle’s onboard sensors, these intelligent infrastructure sensors provide comprehensive, real-time information, equipping vehicles with the foresight to navigate both routine and complex scenarios. This synergy between vehicle and infrastructure sensors empowers vehicles with a holistic understanding of their environment, a crucial element in advancing towards L2, L2+ automated driving. This directly converges with Autonomy Institute’s work on bringing to life the dream of automated mobility districts (AMD). AMDs aim to become a “system-of-systems” operating environment in which the fleet vehicles will communicate not only with their individual fleet’s supervisory/dispatch system and other vehicles in their fleet, but also with intelligent roadway infrastructure.

As vehicles, whether human-driven or automated, establish communication with the infrastructure, senseEDGE becomes the bridge that transforms Intelligent Infrastructure into a proactive partner. It enables its customers to detect stopped vehicles, identify sudden lane changes, monitor speeding vehicles, analyze pedestrian behavior, and issue warnings, among other critical functions. Additionally, it can be used to optimize traffic signal timings based on real-time traffic flow, ensuring smoother traffic movement and reducing idle time at intersections. The true potential of this Intelligent Infrastructure, powered by senseEDGE, shines brightest when self-driving vehicles communicate with it, enabling seamless information sharing between vehicle and infrastructure sensors for more informed, safer decisions.

As we navigate the intricate landscape of advanced mobility, it’s vital to acknowledge the constraints imposed by our current infrastructure. However, this partnership underscores our collective commitment to transformation. Through PINNs (Public Infrastructure Network Nodes), the Autonomy Institute is reimagining infrastructure as an intelligent, responsive companion that propels us towards an era where autonomy thrives.

“We are solving for the national buildout of Intelligent Infrastructure, which is about far more than just ITS sensors, and real estate is the foundation” said Jeffrey DeCoux, Chairman of the Autonomy Institute. “Having a pioneering partner, like Cron AI, will play a key role in implementing that solution.” “Time to get Street Smart” and deploy Intelligent Infrastructure that allows for numerous cutting-edge developments, including optimized traffic management, vision zero solutions, autonomous cars, emergency-service drones, and autonomous delivery, among others.”

The Autonomy Institute’s Public Infrastructure Network Nodes (PINNS) supports many crucial infrastructure updates, including NextG wireless, Edge Computing, Enhance GPS, and Intelligent Transportation Systems. More importantly, the Autonomy Institute works with private infrastructure investors to underwrite $100+ million in Intelligent Infrastructure Economic Zones for the deployment of PINNS.

The Autonomy Institute currently has many infrastructure projects in development that include Intelligent Corridors, communities, and campus. Over 250 industry and government partners are engaged, including Hewlett Packard, CG/LA Infrastructure, NVIDIA, Fiberlight, ADDC, NOKIA, Supermicro, Compass Datacenters, Valmont, Kimley-Horn, W8less, Aero Wireless, Austin Tech 3443, and Greenport.

“The path to autonomy isn’t just about technological leaps — it’s about reshaping our environment to seamlessly accommodate these innovations. The issues posed by the current infrastructure are not insurmountable challenges but catalysts for change. Together, with the Autonomy Institute, we’re writing a new narrative — one where autonomy and intelligent infrastructure coexist, redefining mobility as we know it. Our partnership with Autonomy institute and recent developments at Detroit Smart Parking Lab (DSPL) are a milestone towards infrastructure driven autonomy and safety” — Tushar Chhabra, CEO Cron AI.

The journey to advanced automated mobility and smart roadside infrastructure spaces is not just about technology — it’s about reshaping the way we experience and interact with the world around us. Together, we’re building a future where autonomy thrives in an environment that is as intelligent as it is responsive. As we drive forward, let’s remember that the true promise of autonomy isn’t just in the vehicles — it’s in the seamless symphony of autonomy and intelligent infrastructure that beckons us into a new era of mobility.

[1] https://www.vox.com/technology/2023/8/19/23837648/self-driving-taxis-gm-cruise-alphabet-waymo

[2] https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2023-06-22/san-francisco-robotaxis-interfere-with-firetrucks-los-angeles-is-next

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Cron AI

Taking #perception to #singularity: building an artificially evolving, intelligent edge platform to accelerate 3D sensor data perception processing.