The Road Warrior - NEXTEV CEO Speaks at AutoMobilityLA
LOS ANGELES, CA. — Padmasree Warrior, NextEV's Chief Development Officer & U.S. CEO, gave a rousing presentation at the recent AutoMobilityLA Conference. For those following the rising calculus of NextEV, it should come as no surprise that Ms. Warrior wooed the attendees with her salient and insightful comments concerning the future of autonomous vehicles.
"So many people here in coats and ties, this never happens at a tech conference in Silicon Valley," she said among her opening remarks. A former high level executive at Sysco Systems, Ms. Warrior explained, "The car as we know it today will go through a major transformation."
Her talk centered on "Car 3.0," which represents the postmodern paradigm shift in automotive development.
"I live in Palo Alto, which is close to Stanford University," she began. "I commute to San Jose. That takes 45 minutes on a good day … if you do the math I am losing ten work weeks of productivity in a year. And not just that, in that time I am susceptible to injury and accident … I've been rear-ended twice … luckily nobody was hurt."
Warrior then showed several photographs of what happened to her vehicles during the aforementioned accidents. She specifically said the photos were not randomly taken from the Internet. She mentioned the "stress and anxiety" affiliated with commuting in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In terms of the notion that private ownership of cars will one day in the future become a thing of the past, Warrior dismissed that notion in the strongest terms possible. She then illustrated her theory with a poignant set of humanistic values.
She explained: "The car equals freedom. It empowers people to move freely to go where they want to go. The car equal progress and it will always be an essential part of modern society.
Our vehicles help us get to work, to migrate, enjoy leisure time and run errands."
As explained by other speakers at the conference, Warrior noted that by 2050 A.D., about 60 percent of humanity will be living in "mega cities" of 25 million residents (or more).
Sociologists realize these mega cities will enhance advertising and policing powers for the ruling elites. Managing cities like Lagos, Nigeria or Seoul, South Korea will become increasingly problematic without major reforms in a wide range of areas. Hollywood films like "Children of Men" depict a dystopian nightmare for cities such as London. That needn't be the case.
Continued Warrior: "The car also equals aspirations … people love cars and aspire to own one. Little children as young as two-years of age are already pushing toy vehicles around."
In terms of the autonomous vehicle, she added, "That future is coming. In the United States and India and China, people buy cars … in emerging economies … people buy something to give them mobility."
The NEXTEV leader then lamented the aforementioned analysis leads us to "the problems" we see around us in terms of dysfunctional commuting experiences. "Cars equal pollution … cars and trucks are dangerous and time consuming … and they contribute to [fossil fuel] emissions. We're talking about 70 gallons of refined product per person. The World Health Organization says that there are 1.2 million deaths globally in traffic-related accidents each year due to human error. In the U.S., 100 people die in traffic accidents every single day."
Warrior additionally noted that commuting hours constitute the wasting of 162 lifetimes. "Around 1.8 trillion minutes of lost productivity annually" impact America's Gross Domestic Product. "Just getting from Point A to Point B" is not an easy task for commuters. She also explained the difficulties of getting to and from work for commuters such as this attendee (LoBaido) who often spends 90 minutes travelling each way. (This writer sometimes spends two hours each way while going from Oakland to Silicon Valley.)
Says Warrior, "There are 3.4 million Americans go through" this kind of extreme commuting each day. "On average there is 130 minutes of commuting." This leads to a low quality of life, "depression, obesity and even death … as well as suicidal tendencies."
Warrior showed yet another chart explaining how workers see their freeway commute as the most stressful part of their lives. This leads to tremendous unhappiness, the loss of productivity and a host of other associated ills listed above. All of these can be addressed through autonomous driving systems being successfully blended into postmodern societies.
Moving into the next phase of her talk, Warrior explained that "The power of technology should [include the fact] that it is helping us without us knowing it. [How to] make my commute a joy … that is the challenge …"
Warrior then detailed her views on "what the car has been and can become." As an engineer, she broke down the history of the automobile into three main phases.
"Car 1.0" refers to the mechanical and hydraulic systems ranging from the birth of the Model T through the 1970's.
"Car 2.0" focuses upon the electronic systems from 1970's through 2016. This refers to both mechanical and electronic systems."
"Car 3.0" explains how "data is the new oil." In the past, everything was about hardware. The Pentagon and NASA – even decades ago – possessed massive mainframes. Now we have cloud computing which is another shift of computing power on a massive scale. The computers the Pentagon could only dream of in the 1960's have now become home appliances capable of the highest-level industrial espionage. In the 1970's, cell phones resembled World War II walkie-talkies. Science fiction fans might recall Capt. James T. Kirk and his "communicator." Now even small children can use cellphones.
Explained Warrior: "AI, Machine Learning" and Deep Learning will "dictate the hardware choices that we make. We [as future car engineers] are looking for the skillset that supports ‘Full Stack' development … people who understand both hardware and software.
"Meta-vision systems … algorithms … 360 degree sensors … are now in use. There are debates on autonomy … [to me] it is not man vs machine but rather thinking of how man plus machine can be better than man or machine alone. The cars of the future will be green and better for the environment. In New Delhi and Beijing sometimes children have to be kept home from school because of pollution."
Concluded the NEXTEV CEO: "EV cars offer incentives. They will be easier to service and maintain. It will be a companion, and will be the smartest device you own. [My vehicle] should ask me if I want to take the 101 or 880. It should have a self-learning capability. It should know my music preferences. Think of a robot that looks like a car. Think of CP3O [from Star Wars]. The car of the future will be a safe, green companion. How will we get there? Full Stack development will play a prominent role."
Anthony C. LoBaido is a journalist, ghostwriter and photographer. He has worked in 53 nations around the world – from Laos to Lebanon, from Belize to Botswana and from Nepal to Namibia. He also published a book on the Kurds. Some of LoBaido’s favorite stories include attending the British Army’s jungle warfare training in Central America, retracing Lawrence of Arabia’s World War I trek through Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, investigating the blood diamonds of Sierra Leone as popularized in the Leonardo DiCaprio film by the same name, meeting “CNN hero” Aki Ra at one of his landmine digs in northern Cambodia, working with Time Magazine’s “Hero of Asia” Lek Chailert on her crusade to assist injured and abused elephants in Southeast Asia, rescuing HIV/Aids throw-away babies in the garbage dumps of Cape Town, South Africa, as well as visiting a leper colony in Myanmar. LoBaido’s articles have been cited by Ivy League universities such as Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania. As a photographer, LoBaido made National Geographic in 2014.
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