Who will Dominate the Market in the Autonomous Mobility Industry?
On the 4th and 5th of April 2019, BTC Living Lab and its sister company AV Living Lab d.o.o., which was headed by Daniel Avdagič, hosted distinguished foreign representatives at a conference held at BTC. It was called "The Birth of an Autonomous Marketplace." This year's edition of City as a Lab, CAAL 2019, was attended by big names from the automotive industry and influential service providers from the sector of new mobility. Among them were representatives of Magna, Toyota, Nissan, Hella, AID, JP Morgan Chase., Scania, Italdesign, ITU, Accuweather, HPE Ventures, BMW, and Mercedes Benz.
At the two-day gathering, participants shared their visions of what mobility means today, how it's changing, what we can expect and look forward to, and what we have to take into consideration when discussing mobility as a service. The common thread of the conference was precisely the change in the perception of cars as we know them today. As the round table discussion was moderated John Koetsier of Forbes and Natalie Novick of Tech.eu, the conference was also covered in Forbes Magazine.
The intriguing and lively debates presented a series of exceptional reflections on the future of mobility and its users. Speakers agreed that the future will be marked by autonomous and electric vehicles, and that all the related services will be user-focused.
On a number of occasions, Fede Ponce and Massimo Martinotti highlighted that new mobility has to restore the quality of life and that the focus of innovation development must be placed on the user. Apparently, a car will no longer only be a means of transport, which today requires the driver to pay constant attention to traffic. In the future, while we are driving in a vehicle to reach a destination, we will be able to work, have fun, relax and even sleep. The ambient lighting in the vehicle will change according to our mood, and the vehicle will take care of all other adjustments based on weather conditions. The rider will take a back seat to the experience, and users will no longer have to worry about driving. Furthermore, optimization and car-sharing will make traffic jams a thing of the past-places where we now park vehicles could be turned into parks with walking trails. The simulations presented at the event provided the audience with a representation of what we can look forward to in the future.
Finding what is mandatory to establish a marketplace for autonomous vehicles was heavily emphasized. This will be based on cross-industry collaboration and partnerships between various stakeholders, even stakeholders who are considered competitors. With this, we must take into account that certain companies, which were not connected to the traditional automotive industry in the past, are now entering the industry with services and solutions related to vehicle autonomy. The real question is: who will win the battle?
Many discussions also focused on safety and the means for ensuring that vehicles-as autonomous machines-will know how to react in certain situations to ensure the lowest number of casualties in an accident. Ethical drawbacks are numerous, but it must be stressed that these are exceptionally rare cases compared to the number of traffic accidents today, which are mostly due to human error.
As far as safety, nobody emphasizes its importance more than Violeta Bulc, the European Commissioner for Transport. In her speech, she highlighted that all EU regulations are thoroughly focused on the formation of common standards for traffic safety concerning automated vehicles.
Speculations about the arrival of autonomous vehicles vary. Some say it will take another 10-30 years. Is that so? If so, it will be primarily because we are still building and investing in traditional infrastructure. Setting up a new one, which has to be accompanied by appropriate regulations, will be an expensive and lengthy process. However, all speakers agreed that our technology is ready to take this step, and that there are micro areas already being established to implement autonomous vehicles. This also presents an opportunity for BTC, which already presented an autonomous bus during TENT-T Days in 2018, a conference hosted by European Commission for Transport. While this was only a pilot project, the follow-up phases have already been planned.
Over the course of two days, CAAL 2019 immersed attendees into a not-so-distant future and demonstrated without a doubt that Ljubljana's BTC City is a perfect partner for major global stakeholders. There is, as it turns out, the same Silicon Valley spirit in this parts of the world.
With their teams, Julij Božič and Daniel Avdagič prove that, despite Slovenia's size, it is a highly unique country and that the global leaders in technology respect our opinion when shaping the future. As far as the participants at the conference are concerned, we have exceeded all expectations and can hardly wait to see what CEOs will be speakers at CAAL 2020.