Date: On-demand webinar
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Autonomous vehicles: the importance of weather-related technology and data services

The latest webinar in our series on the business opportunities of extreme weather & climate change focuses on Autonomous Vehicles or AVs.

NOTE: this webinar took place on Wednesday 25th January - it can now be viewed free of charge through the link below.

An important topic

However you look at it, AVs are likely to play a major role in future air, sea and land transportation. But their ability to operate safely and efficiently will depend on how well they can cope with all types of weather conditions.

One area where they will have a major impact is road safety. Each year, weather related road crashes account for a fifth of all highway crashes in the US. In the UK and elsewhere, it's a similar or worse figure.

Globally, the total cost of all weather related road accidents runs into hundreds billions of dollars annually, covering insurance claims, liability, emergency services, congestion delays, rehabilitation, and environmental damage.

Automated vehicles can have a huge positive impact here, but for this to happen it will require public, private, and academic co-operation between the meteorological and transportation communities.

In the context of weather, AVs present challenges and opportunities. The big challenge is to make them operate safely in all types of weather. The big opportunities are that they can help significantly reduce the cost of weather-related accidents, and they can provide weather data useful to weather models, thereby increasing model accuracy.

In this webinar, experts from Ford UK, NCAR and L3Harris investigate the significance of AVs and the importance of weather data for their operation.

Moderator & Chair

  • Dr. Sheldon Drobot, Sr. Manager, Strategy & Technology, Space Systems Sector, Space and Airborne Systems, L3Harris Technologies


  • Dr. Curtis L. Walker, Project Scientist I, Weather Systems and Assessment Program, Research Applications Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research
  • Brice Lambi, Software Engineer, MyRadar 
  • Amanda Siems-Anderson, Associate Scientist IV, Research Applications Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research
  • Professor Richard Folkson, former Chief Engineer at Ford UK, he is an expert on low carbon vehicle technology and now works as a consultant assessing research projects for funding by Innovate UK. He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers from 2015-16 and has been a Smallpeice / Arkwright Scholarship Trustee since 2017

Dr. Sheldon Drobot

Dr. Sheldon Drobot

Sr. Manager, Strategy & Technology, Space Systems Sector, Space and Airborne Systems, L3Harris Technologies

Sheldon is the Principal, Space Exploration, and the Principal, Noble Causes for L3Harris Space & Intelligence. He's charged with strategic planning and new business development. In this role, he's developed a new program to modernize developing world weather services, creating the strategic business plan, connecting with funding authorities, and organizing a core international team to respond to future tenders. He's
also started new programs in hyperspectral remote sensing, synthetic aperture radar, and smart cities.

Dr. Curtis L. Walker

Dr. Curtis L. Walker

Project Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Dr. Curtis Walker is a Project Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) as part of the Research Applications Laboratory (RAL) Weather Systems and Assessment Program (WSAP) specializing in research at the intersections of transportation, weather / climate, and artificial intelligence. Previously, he was an Advanced Study Program (ASP) Postdoctoral Fellow at NCAR. He completed his doctorate in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences with a Meteorology/Climatology specialization from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2018).

During his doctoral studies he was the recipient of the American Meteorological Society Graduate Fellowship Award sponsored by ITT Exelis and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. His research interest is applied boundary layer meteorology with emphasis on road weather applications, renewable energy and urban meteorology. Prior to his graduate studies he participated in the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science (SOARS) Program and has since returned “home” to Boulder, Colorado.

Brice Lambi

Brice Lambi

Software Engineer, MyRadar

Brice is a data scientist and researcher working in transportation weather and modeling.  With over 15 years experience in public and private weather entities Brice has worked to improve road weather forecasting and verification for consumer and commercial uses.  Brice is currently a Software Engineer at MyRadar working to build consumer facing road condition nowcast and road condition climatology as inputs for predictive modeling and fleet safety.

Amanda Siems-Anderson

Amanda Siems-Anderson

Associate Scientist NCAR RAL

Amanda Siems-Anderson is an Associate Scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in the Research Applications Laboratory (RAL). She has 11 years of experience with road weather research and applications, predominantly in the area of Connected Vehicles. She also works in the areas of radar, wildfire prediction, and verification/performance assessment of forecasts and decision support systems. She is the Chair of the American Meteorological Society's Intelligent Transportation Systems/Surface Transportation Committee and a member of the World Meteorological Organization's HiWeather Verification Task Team.

Professor Richard Folkson

Professor Richard Folkson

former Chief Engineer, Ford UK

Richard graduated from Imperial College, London with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and spent 30 years working at Ford Motor Company Limited on all aspects of vehicle product development including Body, Engine, Transmission, Chassis, Electrical engineering and Project Management. He was Project Manager for two Ford Transit models and the original Ford Focus.  He rose to the position of Chief Engineer – Technical Alignment – Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin, Volvo, Mazda which was a role ensuring that all products within the Ford owned companies were engineered to the highest standards using consistent processes.

Retiring from Ford in 2006, Richard spent the following years teaching automotive design at the universities of Loughborough and Hertfordshire. He is an expert on Low Carbon Vehicle Technology having edited a book on the subject and now works as a consultant assessing research projects for funding by Innovate UK.

Richard was appointed Visiting Professor to the University of Hertfordshire in 2004 and was appointed Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor for Innovation and Design in 2008. He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 2015-16 and has been a Smallpeice / Arkwright Scholarship Trustee since 2017.

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