One of the driving themes at Shift is that we want to be a bridge between Silicon Valley and the traditional auto industry, helping them figure each other out.
So our first event in Silicon Valley, in October, was exciting because it soon became clear that we needed to put aside what we were planning to talk about and just let the audience ask a lot of questions. Because they had lots and lots of questions.
Much of the discussion became the inspiration for what’s inside this issue. We talked, generally, about how self-driving cars will change the way people interact with their vehicles. We touched on the surprising safety implications of altering seating positions in cars and how much stronger seats will need to be to absorb crash forces. We talked about regulations, liability issues and whether cars will need to have barf bags on hand.
At the end of the morning, I asked our supplier panelists to tell the audience what they wished people in Silicon Valley understood more about the auto industry, and our Silicon Valley panelists to talk about what they wished the auto industry understood about them.
Guillaume Peronnet, vice president of North American strategy for Faurecia, said the auto industry is slow because it has to be. Lives are at stake when cars are on the road.
“New players are changing things and getting cars to the market much faster,” he said. “We are learning from them, but they are learning, too.”
And Kal Gyimesi, offering leader for IBM’s Watson Assistant for Automotive, said he wishes the auto industry would change faster and innovate faster.
“I recognize the trade-off, even though we want the industry to be ready faster,” he said. “The more I work in the industry, the more I respect it.”