Car manufacturers, technology companies, and other auto-tech industry professionals recently gathered at the 6th annual 2018 AutoMobility conference in Los Angeles to discuss the future of mobility.
The four-day event included insightful discussions, auto-tech announcements, tours, competitions and networking events. All of the panels and presentations were centered around the themes of autonomy, connectivity, and the electrification of vehicles.
“Autonomy in particular is in a really interesting place right now,” said Tim Stevens, editor-at-large, Roadshow by CNET, who emceed the event. “Autonomy has made huge steps forward over the last 12 months both in terms of software and machine learning, but the state of legislature is still as muddy today as 12 months ago and that is actually holding things up.”
Stevens said one area that has made major strides in the last four months is the state of the electric car market.
He pointed out the incredible job Tesla has done teaching people that electric vehicles are not only emissions free and environmentally friendly, but also attractive vehicles that are enjoyable to drive. In addition to the Jaguar I-PACE now on the market, a number of electric vehicles have been unveiled and are expected to be available for purchase over the next couple of years.
During the event, AutoMobility attendees had the opportunity to view a wide range of auto-tech exhibits from innovative companies in a Technology Pavilion. Dassault Systèmes, one of the conference sponsors, exhibited its software solutions for electric, connected, and autonomous vehicles. Michael Lalande, business consulting director for Transportation & Mobility at Dassault Systèmes North America, said that a key focus of the company’s electric strategy targets systems engineering. He demonstrated the company’s 3DEXPERIENCE platform, which offers vehicle manufacturers and suppliers the ability to design and validate systems virtually.
In addition to the exhibits, presentations were held throughout the event. In one of the panel discussions, “It Takes a Village to Build a Car,” participants spoke about the heightened demand for software and technology in self-driving cars. As a result, they concurred the increasing need for the automotive ecosystem to collaborate more than ever.
“The industry as a whole is over 100 years old, and then we start talking about technology companies that have been out 100 days… and they can move fast and are more nimble,” said Scott Burnell, the global lead, business development and partner management for the Ford Development Program. “That’s the evolution our entire industry needs to work together and learn.”
Highlights from the event:
- Giovanni Palazzo, CEO of Electrify America shared his perspective on the role electric vehicle (EV) charge companies can play as mobility continues to evolve and new EVs are increasingly seen on American roadways. Electrify America is a subsidiary of Volkswagen. “We are at a pivotal moment in automotive history as EVs are poised to make a major impact on the industry,” said Palazzo. “Dozens of new cars are coming to market with ranges exceeding 200 miles and rapidly increasing charging speeds.” He said fast-charging services will be in high demand and by June 2019, Electrify America will have nearly 500 charging stations providing coverage across the country. The company will have invested more than $2 billion over 10 years in charging infrastructure, awareness and education, which includes a television commercial “The Jetstones.”
Companies such as Rivian and BYTON debuted new vehicles on the show floor. RJ Scaringe, founder and CEO of the electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian, introduced two Electric Adventure Vehicles™ — the R1T™, an all-electric, five-passenger pickup, and the R1S™ fully electric SUV. Byton’s K-Byte and M-Byte concept cars were unveiled by Dr. Carsten Breitfeld, chairman of the board, CEO and founder of Byton, and the company’s designer Benoit Jacob. The fully-autonomous vehicles use a smart EV platform.
- One of the top customer complaints with vehicles is reportedly built-in voice recognition. As a result, Ned Curic, vice president of Amazon Alexa Automotive, talked about the Amazon Alexa’s mobility strategy and how the Automotive team is working to extend the cloud-based Alexa experience into vehicles.
Thor Trucks received the top award for Automotive Startup company during the event for its vision, innovation, and unique perspective in the industry. The company builds battery electric vehicles for commercial applications and the batteries that go inside those vehicles. Giordano Sordoni, co-founder of Thor Trucks, said, “While there is a ton of interesting technology here at the show today and in the industry, a lot of great improvements in electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles, I’m here to tell you that none of it matters to our customers unless we can make it affordable and easy to adopt.”
- Preparing highways for an autonomous future is an important priority for many in the auto-tech industry. Ted Klaus, vice president and executive engineer of Honda R&D Americas, said one of the greatest challenges is to create effective communication and coordination for autonomous vehicles on the highways. Klaus discussed the Smart Mobility Corridor Project, a partnership with the state of Ohio based on Honda’s “Safe Swarm” concept, which focuses on the movement of multiple vehicles. In addition to reducing traffic and mitigating collisions, he said the connected-highway project aims to provide drivers with a comfortable experience.
Editor: Watch the following video to discover how Honda R&D Americas has embraced the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to overcome the challenges of getting new products to market.