Lux recently attended the MOVE America 2020 conference, which broadly focused on technologies that innovate the way we can move people and things. It's a massive event, featuring nearly 200 speakers and sessions spanning multiple tracks over three days. The event – like many others this year – shifted to virtual, meaning we Luxers were able to don our sweatpants and listen in to dozens of hours of presentations, panels, and discussions. The event focused on most of the "CASE" (connected, autonomous, shared, electric) technologies defining the future of mobility, although notably less attention was placed on electrification at the event. Below, we summarize key takeaways in the other areas defining the future of mobility:
- V2X communication is commonly seen as an important feature of future smart cities and autonomous vehicles. Interestingly, in most sessions where the topic of connectivity came up, almost all autonomous vehicle developers noted a focus on designing systems that don't rely on a V2X connection. While connectivity can be useful for added layers of redundancy, AV developers need to avoid relying on infrastructure to be built for their vehicles or risk being restricted to a certain geography. Several city officials reinforced this message, with several noting that autonomous vehicles must be able to use existing infrastructure and coexist with non-autonomous vehicles. Several panelists in various sessions also stressed the need for other modes of transit – such as cyclists, pedestrians, and scooters – to communicate with vehicles to address safety concerns in cities.
- For a conference as large as MOVE, it was refreshing to see a focus on practical challenges and opportunities in autonomous vehicles rather than startups hyping their own products and services. Renesas and LeddarTech highlighted Deepen AI's pooled data brokerage, in which AV developers can share valuable driving scenarios to collectively solve edge cases and reduce redundancy in the industry. Udelv noted that one of the biggest challenges moving forward is designing autonomous vehicles to meet ISO 26262 standards, and it is a complex challenge to plan for the failure of the various sensors, power supplies, and other components of the autonomous vehicle. However, the future isn't only about fully autonomous vehicles, and supplier Magna was quick to highlight that it is seeing automakers make big bets on autonomous driver assist systems (ADAS) to provide Level 2 autonomous driving.
- A major part of the discussions related to shared mobility at this conference could be tied back to a single point: Can mobility services result in a decline in car ownership? Car-sharing is one of the earliest concepts proposed to this end, and Robin Chase – former CEO of Zipcar – noted that the single biggest driver of car-sharing programs is the density of people who don't require a car to drive to work. Of course, other technologies are available for those who want to ditch the car. A panelist from Turo claimed the peer-to-peer (P2P) car-sharing service saw very little churn among hosts during COVID-19 (although we expect that demand dropped), claiming the company believes the future is bright for P2P as a way for vehicle owners to offset increasing vehicle costs. Micromobility, particularly in the form of scooters, was a major topic of conversation in many panels, and it is clear to Lux that scooters have moved at warp speed through the hype cycle and are already a mature technology. City officials spoke favorably of the technology, noting that public data sharing and digital platforms are key to managing services, which can be valuable in helping cities reduce emissions and congestion, a drastic departure from years past.
We're clearly headed toward a future of transportation that is more connected, automated, shared, and electric – but who will own this future? At a panel titled "Finding the next unicorn," Jeremy Kaufman of Scale Venture Partners noted that two-thirds of all unicorns (not necessarily mobility-related) are market disruptors taking market share away from incumbents rather than market makers creating new markets. While it's tempting to look at that data point and believe that startups will lead the push for new automotive technologies, incumbent automakers will remain in the driver's seat, controlling adoption of these technologies, due to the complexity of making vehicles – the real opportunity for startups lies in disrupting the car.
- Blog: Taxonomizing Smart City Mobility
- Executive Summary: The Electric Vehicle Inflection Tracker: 2020 Edition
- On-Demand Webinar: Avoiding Extinction in an Era of Shared Mobility