2021 ALL STAR | SAFETY INNOVATION
Director of safety research and best practices,
Self-driving tech company Waymo reconstructed real-life fatal crashes that occurred in its Chandler, Ariz., operating area, then simulated how its virtual driver would have responded in those scenarios.
Trent Victor, who joined the company in June 2020 after more than two decades in various roles within Volvo, helped spearhead Waymo's groundbreaking reconstructions and novel safety study, released earlier this year.
In replicating 52 scenarios in which Waymo's system played the role of the driver who instigated the crashes — running red lights, speeding, crossing medians and more — the company determined its technology would have prevented all 52 crashes.
In 39 scenarios in which Waymo's driver played the "responder" role, reacting to hazardous situations caused by other road users, the system avoided 32 crashes and reduced the severity of four others.
"These are incredibly important results," Victor said when the study was issued in March. "It shows that the Waymo driver is not only capable of driving safely on its own but is able to respond effectively when the opposing party makes a mistake."
The work stemmed from similar studies of traffic-death data in Europe that Victor conducted during his time as Volvo's senior technical leader for crash avoidance at the Volvo Cars Safety Centre. Then he helped extend it to the self-driving realm.
At Waymo, Victor oversees safety research and collision data analytics, and coordinates development of best practices for the company's operations across robotaxi and trucking operations.