To Drive or not to Drive?

Anyone talking about autonomous cars as a hypothetical at this point isn't watching very closely. Google has pressed on, launching new versions of its prototypes for uban driving, improving its fleet of Lexus hybrids which have now logged over 1.3 Million miles, and doing ongoing testing at Castle Air Force Base. Many carmakers are doing tests at University of Michigan Ann Arbor's Mcity proving ground. Ford is testing self-driving cars (SDC) in winter driving conditions. Outside of proving grounds, Volvo has a major trial soon underway around Gothenburg using 100 vehicles and real commercial customers. But all of the above tests are no longer the bulk of progress in autonomous cars. At this point, they are just the tip of the spear. The wood of the spear is what's now happening on a road near you.

The progress being made in prototypes, Potemkin Villages, and proving grounds is significant and impressive – it is the creation of our transportation future -- but it is also largely academic. Tesla Motors' AutoPilot mode is currently the main momentum that is pushing the industry forward, and putting pressure on regulators to keep up. While Volvo will soon launch 100 SUVs, and Ford has a fleet of 30 SDC, those numbers are dwarfed by the ~50,000 Model S cars equipped with Level II autonomy using AutoPilot on real public roads. According to Elon Musk, these cars log a million miles per day! And Tesla learns from the cars' sensors, and from the corrective feedback made by the human drivers whether the car has AutoPilot engaged or not.

Aside from how impressive/lucky it is that Tesla hasn't suffered any AutoPilot injuries thus far, the most important factor at play here is a new pace of learning. AutoPilot uses "fleet learning", as do most autonomous car projects. So the pace of improvements is a function of the amount of miles driven. And the more of those miles that occur in the real-word (compared to closed model towns), the more practical is the learning.

Tesla isn't alone. Conventional OEMs have a treasure trove of SDC technologies secreted away in their labs. But, spurred by the competition, they will transition those to market and offer ADAS similar in effect to AutoPilot. For the industry overall, the upshot is that the pace of improvement over the next three years will not be a straight line from the past three years. Capabilities are improving exponentially, and benefitting from these adjacent trends:

  • Mobile networks
  • Wireless protocols
  • Machine Vision
  • AI and Machine Learning
  • Cloud Computing
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Smart Cities
  • GIS systems
  • …oh, and Moore's Law, Kryder's Law, and Nielsen's Law

Autonomous cars are real, today. The theoretical discussion is over.

In our Autonomous Vehicle meeting, we're going to bring together the Telecom Council with the Autotech Council, two groups very interested in the future of the Connected and Autonomous car, and we'll discuss:

  • What are the next steps in our steady progression towards self-driving?
  • How different is the jump from Level II to Level III or IV?
  • How is Autonomous AI improving?
  • What are the costs of the elaborate sensors and equipment, and discuss how the cost curve will move in the next decade?
  • Ways SDCs affect car ownership, car sharing, parking, and urban planning.
  • How does connectivity affect the SDC, and the Infotainment experience of the passengers?
  • What will the social and cultural issue be surrounding taking humans out of the driver's seat?
  • What about regulatory barriers or incentives?
  • How much infrastructural change will be required?

This ½-day, executive-format meeting is open to members and guests of the Telecom Council and Autotech Council. The agenda highlights a few larger vendors who are leading the segment forward and brings dozens of undiscovered companies to the stage as well. As always, we include plenty of time for networking, business discussions, and an interactive format that promotes relationships between member and non-member companies.

1. Autotech Council and Telecom Council Members: Meeting participation - FREE, Demo Tables - $50
2. Non-Members: Meeting participation - $200, Demo Tables - $500. Prerevenue startups may qualify for a 50% discount. Contact The Council to discuss.

Demo Tables Available - SOLD OUT
Demo tables are available during registration to any company with a product or service in this market segment who would like to show their technology during the morning and lunch breaks. These are a great way to get everyone in the room an in-person introduction to what you are doing in this market segment. Tables are 30” tall round cocktail tables, include black table linen, power, and Wi-Fi when available.

Call For Sponsors
Want your company or product to have maximum impact at this meeting of up to 100 Automotive Professionals? Companies interested in sponsoring this meeting should check out the meeting details and click ahead to learn more about the benefits of sponsorship.


  • When

  • Friday, April 8, 2016
    8:30 AM - 1:00 PM

  • Where

  • Maxim Integrated
    160 Rio Robles
    Building A
    San Jose, California 95134
    1 (408) 601-1000

About the Autotech Council

Visionary companies in the auto industry use the Autotech Council to discover innovation, build partnerships, exchange insight, and grow their professional networks. The result is earlier discovery of new innovation, better understanding of technology's potential impact and timing, access to more entrepreneurs and investors, and in the big picture - getting better cars to market faster.

Autotech Council members meet monthly to hear from start ups and educate themselves on new technologies and market trends. For more details, visit

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