The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Self-Driving Cars


The PTOS Education Committee, the USPTO Military Association and the Bright Knights Chapter of Federally Employed Women proudly present:


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Self-Driving Cars

Thursday, February 1, 2024 from 1-2pm EST


Join us in learning about self-driving cars during a presentation given by Professor Mary (Missy) Cummings!


Self-driving cars have been a dream of society from almost the time of invention. With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), this dream has seemingly become reality with driverless commercial operations in a handful of cities around the world.  However, given the recent tragic accident involving a pedestrian and a Cruise self-driving car, as well as multiple high-profile Tesla crashes, the reality that such systems may not actually be as capable as envisioned is slowly creeping into the national consciousness. Given these concerns, it is important to step back and analyze just why AI is struggling to operate safely in autonomous vehicles. This talk will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of AI in self-driving cars, as well as in all safety-critical applications, and lay out a roadmap for safe integration of these technologies on public roadways.


Bio: Professor Mary (Missy) Cummings received her B.S. in Mathematics from the US Naval Academy in 1988, her M.S. in Space Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in 1994, and her Ph.D. in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia in 2004. A naval officer and military pilot from 1988-1999, she was one of the U.S. Navy's first female fighter pilots. She is a Professor in the George Mason University College of Engineering and Computing and is the director of the Mason Autonomy and Robotics Center (MARC). She is an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Fellow, and recently served as the senior safety advisor to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Her research interests include the application of AI in safety-critical systems, assured autonomy, human-systems engineering, and the ethical and social impact of technology.




Questions? Please contact Cathy Loikith (PTOS) at, Robin Hylton (UMA) at, or Sonja L. Williams (FEW) at


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