Innovation & Tech Today: What were the top ten most exciting developments at the L.A. Auto Show and CCE?
Andy Gryc: How about six?
- Valasek & Miller’s UConnect hack over the summer single-handedly changed the discussion around automotive cybersecurity from Maybe to When? Car companies are going to have to get real smart about software real fast.
- Silicon Valley getting into automotive. There have never been more tech companies attempting to enter the automotive space. That’s going to make a huge impact as people who don’t have legacy ideas, tooling, and process start to reimagine transportation. Examples include: Google’s autonomous effort (now branded Alphabet), Apple’s ‘top secret’ Titan, Uber building a car with Uber ATC, Tesla, etc.
- Self-driving cars became a serious competitive sport this year. Every OEM has announced plans for their roadmap. There was a continuous march of autonomous announcements and demonstrations, and changes to regulations, test tracks, etc.
- OTA (Over The Air). This year, Tesla shared how to use updates ‘Over The Air’ to prevent software recalls and to roll out seriously compelling features. OTA has been a huge eye opener for the traditional OEMs, some of whom have the capability but are too risk-adverse to use it (or have dealer agreements that tie their hands). Seeing that Tesla can roll out features and get kudos from customers and pundits alike with relatively few lumps will be a trendsetter for others.
- 3D printed cars. Not only is this tech very cool, it has been shown to be practical and safe. It gives us the ability to create new visions, and it allows owners to take personalization to the next level. Cars are now part of the maker community. And with the ability to recycle parts and recast them, it helps preserve our limited resources.
- Alternative ownership models. This year also brought an explosion of numerous different ways to participate in the car experience (besides buying, leasing, or renting), namely, car sharing, ride sharing, or fractional ownership. Certainly companies like Lyft and Uber are making it very publically understood, but these models also being taken seriously by OEMs: Ford Smart mobility, Daimler CarToGo, GM Zip, Audi on demand, etc. That’s an important step, because it shows that the car makers are willing to follow demographic trends even if they logically lead to selling fewer cars.
I&T Today: What are you expecting to see in auto innovations in the next year? Five years? Ten years?
AG: Within one: Smaller, low cost Electric Vehicles (EVs) will become real options. Elio motors is a good example of an independent working to deliver this, but also expect more OEMs to announce practical entry level EVs. Currently most EVs are ‘green chic’ premium models.
Within five: Autonomous popularly available on nearly every make/model as option. With reduced-cost LIDAR, sensors, and computing, these will be reasonable cost options ($3-5K), although they still will be primarily domain of early adopters. Technology will get here before people do; we’ll see more rapid changes to laws and customer attitudes.
Within ten: A lower bar of entry will mean new entrants and more transportation choices than we’ve had in a long time – not just ‘copycat’ models of cars. We’ll start to see cars that depend on connectivity for navigation, updates, and V2X. There will be specialized autonomous lanes for platooning in high-density cities, as well as disruption in traditional carmakers. Slow movers will flounder financial with some possible mergers or bankruptcies.