AUTOMOTIVE’S BIG-BANG MOMENT

Developing the time machine for future travel

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There’s a moment when the future becomes real. When a cold hand just kind of slaps you square in the face with an inevitable reality.

With saints and profits abound, the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show now “AutoMobility LA” opened. Taking on this new role, re-focusing the show with innovations, mobility and connectivity, EV’s and smart cities as the core of its purpose. Capitalizing somewhat on this change of format, one OEM launched it’s new vehicle with and eye toward an Autonomous future.

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British carmaker Jaguar gathered the most attention with it’s first all-electric vehicle, the I-Pace Concept. It’s a very slick 400-horsepower quasi-crossover with sports car performance, spaceship technology and a heap of wonderfully smelling stitched-leather British opulence. A recent Bloomberg study suggests that by 2040 30-40% of all cars will be EV’s. The rest of the show floor was pretty much, ho-hum.

This is because all the excitement was in the “Technology Pavilion Exhibit”. A large second tier quonset hut-styled permanent tent is where the future was laid out (for those who had ears and wanted to hear) before us.

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Witness then some of the world’s top automakers and technology executives, futurists, engineers, developers, designers and thought leaders in the industry made some shape-shifting announcements.

Listening, I felt sometimes as though I was living in a H.G. Wells novel. These industry-leading personalities spoke of technologies and innovations focused on future mobility and transportation platforms. Included were speakers from: Facebook, Intel, Lyft, Amazon, Nextev, Nvidia, Garmin, TomTom, Cisco, McLaren Applied Technology, IBM Watson and Xerox.

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Mark Fields CEO Ford was the Keynote speaker. He starts off claiming…” this to be the first major auto show that’s just not about cars, but about smart cities too.” Field’s also said…”we are on the cusp of a mobility revolution and we have spent the last one-hundred years getting ready for this moment”. Interestingly, Fields spent the majority of his time with the “mobility movement”, he barely stepped foot in the convention hall and the Ford vehicle display. The company expects future mobility solutions would be unlocked much sooner if  you bring the public and private companies and government together in addressing all the issues.

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The evolution revolution therefore becomes focused on the cities of tomorrow. In the US alone, over 160 million hours are wasted each a year being stuck in traffic. It will only get worse as it is anticipated that by 2030, 60% of the world’s population will live in big cities. A century ago, people only traveled about four miles per day and back then, most people never ventured more than ten miles in their lifetime. Today on average, we travel one and a half hours every day and much of it in traffic. People can’t fathom the time/productivity lost by being stuck in traffic. Imagine then, riding along in an autonomous vehicle where you can actually be productive, take a class, read a book, watch a movie or even take a nap. Intelligent solutions and connected mobility solutions can also take the cognitive load off a driver. Additionally, outside of the possibility of personal injury, imagine feeling healthier as you have less stress and anxiety by not being behind the wheel. As 80% of all accidents are human error, and one-hundred people die each day in automobile accidents in the USA.

Just so everyone knows, ALL OEM’s are on a path either separately or working together with high tech companies in developing products that will in the end, give us all the opportunity for recapture of a large  amount of lost personal time.

In the evolution of the automobile think in terms of from where we came. In the beginning, it was CAR 1.0, where the vehicle was all about mechanicals and hydraulics. Then in the ‘70’s came CAR 2.0 where electronic systems began to be introduced. CAR 3.0 is where we are right now with digital systems, processors and some algorithms running certain safety systems and assisted driving.

But it won’t be very long for the quantum leap to full AI. Concerted efforts will eventually lead to fully autonomous vehicles. This is where the automobile will become the smartest device you will ever use and a “car” becomes the core element and this will happen much sooner than you can even imagine.

In the connection of everything and the Internet of Things all the companies that showed up in Los Angeles for this event admit they cannot do this alone. They all said there is a real need to collect all the best ideas and collaborate with others, (even competitors) in order to put all of this tech together in the right way.  Because of digital technology then, the mindset seems to have changed. The “not invented here syndrome” is quite possibly nearly over as there is a big desire to work together. OEM’s are asking each other to join the community and don’t see any of this as a major threat. In motor racing, it’s all about adapting and moving quickly. The entire process produces optimal copy solutions. Energy recovery and very advanced control systems orchestrate the architecture to all work together. That’s what it’s all about. Smart people working together to figure out just how big a bang this is really going to be.

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