On April 11, the Council held a meeting focused on "The Passenger Economy" of autonomous vehicles.
For the purposes of our meeting, the Passenger Economy is the business ecosystem around the new services, products, and mobility options intended for the people inside a vehicle, once the job of driving that vehicle no longer consumes their attention for all or some of the trip. Some of the ideas include services like:
- infotainment and media
- cabin design: lay flat, desks, social seating
- cabin personalization: lighting, noise, window dimming, media
- commerce: try/purchase snacks, coffee, or even clothing while moving
- shared solutions with personalized spaces
In 2017, Intel and Strategy Analytics presented research on the "Passenger Economy" which shows it eventually growing to $7 trillion. Today’s full day agenda includes industry leaders, technology vendors, and industry analysts alongside startup pitches and tabletop demos.
Because even though we are still waiting for commercially launched AVs on public roads, there are already a number of startups and big companies working on solutions specifically designed for use with AVs. And we heard from some of them at our meeting.
While the tech involved in autonomous driving is very interesting to tech enthusiasts and industry, it's not what will matter to consumers when Level 4-5 actually arrives. People aren't excited about self-driving cars because they self-drive. They are excited about what that means to them in terms of lifestyle changes. For example, you might hear the general public musing: "I could read a book", "I could watch TV", or "I could catch a nap". It's about what they can DO in an AV. This is the "Apple TV ad campaign" approach to AVs: instead of talking about the tech and specs that make the cars go, it's about what it means for people and lifestyles.
Our meeting was held at Western Digital, provider of memory solutions for the automotive industry, who offered some perspective on the growing need for storage in cars, and the industry-specific needs of automotive. Western Digital CTO Martin Fink gave us a quick explanation of the Milpitas facility, and the Flash storage research that goes on there. Garima Mathur, in a panel session, also shared with us some of the ways storage will be built and deployed in cars for various roles: High performance, very reliable storage for delivering safety in autonomous driving, and more economical storage for in-cockpit infotainment roles.
We were fortunate to have two analyst presentations during the day, one from Carla Bailo, CEO of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, who described some forward-looking scenarios for multi-modality in a future with autonomous vehicles. We also heard from Steve Bell (of Light Reading and Resident Analyst @TU-Auto.com), who showed us data about what industry thinks will be important technologies in an autonomous future. Steve's research was a blended view the connectivity and autonomous aspects of future mobility.
As always, we had a handful of interesting panel discussions, and a wide range of "innovator rapid-fire, 6-minute presentations". Ultimately, the meeting gave attendees a very forward-looking view on the blue-sky opportunities we may see in an autonomous vehicle future. Much of the innovation we discussed will occur in the medium term (~10 yrs), but some of it will be trickling out immediately, growing into a flow within a few years. ADAS and L2-L3 autonomy and Smart Cities will provide an environment for much of the innovation discussed, even today. And, based on the ideas presented, there is plenty of opportunity for:
- improving safety
- delighting people as they move about
- reducing costs
- improving environmental externalities
- reducing congestion
- enhancing urban design
- improving the efficiency and UX of shared mobility/public transit
- all while offering business opportunities in an era of disruption
Hopefully, the ideas shared will help you be on the right side of that disruption. Members can review all of the presentations from the day on the Member Library, with clips from our exhibitors below.