City as a Lab Summit: The Birth of Autonomous Marketplace – Final

Introduction

Please read about the day one in my previous article at City as a Lab Summit: The Birth of Autonomous Marketplace – Day 1

The City as a Lab Summit, themed as “The Birth of the Autonomous Marketplace”, started on April 3rd with a finger dinner for speakers and finished on April 5th.

The summit, which took place in Ljubljana/Slovenia, was a high level event with the participation of distinguished stakeholders willing to foster the suggested theme of creating the autonomous marketplace. I am glad to have participated as a keynote speaker, also part of a round table discussion, and nice networking opportunities with senior executives from different companies.

Day Two

The day started with a promising agenda, including the participation of Ms. Violeta Bulc, European Union Commissioner for Transport. who kicked off with the opening speech.

Ms. Violeta Bulc shared her vision on how the European transportation will be transformed over the coming years and how to develop a common EU standards for safety and security. More, she spoke about the EU Commission adoption of new rules for connected and automated mobility and the meaning for road safety to dramatically improve safety. The legal certainty comes in good hand for automakers and operators to start implementing Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) across the European continent, as well as for the EU Commission to achieve its targets on road safety. Read more about her speech in the article by John Koetsier from Forbes at Self-driving Cars In 10 Years: EU Expects 'Fully Automated' Cars by 2030

Next, the International Telecommunication Union-ITU’s advisor Stefano Polidori spoke of the several activities realized by the study and focus groups on Intelligent Transport Systems. ITU is the United Nations agency specialized in Information and Communication Technologies that develops technical standards, allocate global radio spectrum and satellite orbits. Highlighted by Polidori is the need of agreement on standardization when a vehicle is a heavy user of the communications network, a path that is very painful for OEMs to find a common ground. It’s very unlikely that there will be a global technical standard, rather there will be regional ones as it’s today, being ITU one of the alternatives.

AccuWeather, who provides commercial weather forecasting services, caught my attention. It is interesting to see how the diverse stakeholders are all connected in the autonomous ecosystem. The vehicles have to learn how to deal with different weather conditions, which is beyond rain, snow and ice. So, accurate weather forecast is an essential component of predicting different road and visibility conditions to improve safety in the vehicle perimeter, also an important piece of AI when the machine needs to make decisions.

Next, HPE Ventures spoke of edge computing to power mobility, highlighting the need to seriously address potential cybersecurity issues. On investments, we that OEMs are creating startup garages to support with corporate venture funding to avoid the hassle of penetrating a big corporation from start; eventually, these startups will be imported to the big organization as a spinoff.

Here, I want to open a parenthesis as the subject brings to my mind the liability issue in an autonomous driving world. Who should be held responsible in case an accident happens? Even if it happens very seldom as machines are built to predict and behave far better than humans (no distraction), though not being able to judge as humans (moral ‘Holborn problem’). Is it the automaker, the software company, the transport operator, the remote operator of the vehicle (control tower/fleet management)? The mechanisms change with autonomous vehicles. Since there’s no data enough to evaluate, the discussion is ongoing and new insights come every day. But there will be a transition phase until a common agreement is met by the players and this takes time to settle. As it looks today, I tend to believe that the software company will be blamed, or will at least share the blame, since that an underlying algorithm is in charge of controlling the vehicle (if not a mechanical failure). Beyond, what about malicious interference? It is a different world and the industry and regulators are still learning how to handle this new scenario to come up with a common regulatory set of criteria.

At latest in the agenda, Toyota, BMW and Daimler shared their views on the future of mobility and connectivity. Interesting to see how incumbent OEMs are transforming to be a mobility company in the era of digitalization and automation.

Final Conclusions

All the topics were named under the umbrella of the theme Autonomous Marketplace. So, it sounds like a language that the summit tried to convey. New buzzword? I like it.

My reading between the lines is that Ljubljana-Slovenia is trying to place itself as an unique place in Europe to provide the concept of City as a Lab. Maybe a reaction to other developments going forth in other places nearby. However, I must say that Slovenia is admittedly putting a lot of efforts and investments to catch up and be amongst the frontrunners in Europe.

About the summit itself, it delivered according to the proposal of promoting an autonomous marketplace. Very interesting insights from Silicon Valley, speeches by high level execs, experts and government officials, mingling, etc. And the great hospitality of the organizers that impressed everyone and made a difference. I hope it happens again.

The main stand-out message that came from the summit is the need to forge an autonomous marketplace through collaborations and partnerships as things are moving fast. All without compromising paramount safety and security. Also, the need to have the citizens at the center when developing technologies, give freedom back to citizens.

Cheers!

 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions in this article are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect neither the position of the company I work, nor of any official authority, nor any private entity, nor City as a Lab summit, nor the companies and people mentioned in this article.

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