It has been another busy month in the world of automotive innovation, but perhaps the most notable news stories of the last few weeks were a couple that concerned the electric vehicle sector and the race to develop fully-autonomous vehicles.
Firstly, it was announced that Ford is investing $US500 million in Rivian, the U.S. based start-up developer of electric pick-up trucks and SUVs. As well as the investment stake, the Ford deal will see the companies work together to develop a new electric vehicle for Ford based on Rivian’s innovative Skateboard EV platform.
If you think you’ve heard of Rivian before, you have – you may recall in February that the company had secured $US700million in an investment round led by Amazon.
The investment numbers are mind-bogglingly large and are evidence again, if more proof were needed, that electric vehicles are going to be a huge part of the automotive industry’s future.
The other bit of interesting news came from Elon Musk, the man who could, through the establishment of Tesla, be recognised as the person who ushered in the current electric vehicle era.
Tesla is obviously a leader in the electric vehicle field, but also is at the forefront of autonomous vehicle technology development. However, it has taken a different tack to other companies on how to reach the ultimate goal of a fully self-driving vehicle. While most look to LiDAR (Light Detecting and Radar) as an essential component in that quest, Musk is somewhat dismissive of that technology, with Tesla instead focusing on the use of cameras (plus other sensors such as radar) and a neural network that is trained using data collected by the company’s cars.
“Lidar is a fool’s errand,” said Musk at the Tesla Autonomy Day presentation on April 22.
“Anyone who relies on Lidar is doomed. Expensive sensors that are unnecessary. It’s like having a whole bunch of expensive appendices. One appendix is bad, now we’ve got a whole bunch of them. It’s ridiculous.”
It will be interesting to see which system wins out.
MTAiQ continues its mission to connect and collaborate with the wider network of organisations working in the innovation space and in April members of the innovation hub team attended a number of events and meetings.
Most notable amongst these was the QODE innovation and technology festival held at the beginning of the month at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition.
A fusion of festival and conference, QODE brought together leaders in innovation and tech, including our CEO, Dr Brett Dale, who took part in a panel discussion titled Next Generation Transportation – An Emerging Industry together with Constantin Schwaab, CEO of Wirelane in Germany.
They explored the concept of the smart commute market, which is expected to quadruple in size within five years, and which offers opportunities for innovation and economic rewards for cities and states that adopt the technologies early. The session elaborated on mobility-activated smart cities, transportation as a service (TAAS), flying cars and other aspects of this segment.
Also on the agenda was the INNOV8 Logan meet-up, held at Logan-based tech start-up GO1.
GO1 is one of the top online learning platforms in Australia and recently raised $30million in funding led by Microsoft’s venture fund M12. While the company has its headquarters in Logan, the company has offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth and internationally in the U.S., South Arica, Vietnam, the U.K., and Malaysia.
Mid-April saw a briefing at MTAiQ from iMove CRC Program Director Jeff Kasparian. A consortium of 44 industry, government, and research partners engaged in concerted effort to improve Australia’s transport systems through collaborative R&D projects, iMove CRC researches the availability of data, emerging technology in vehicles and logistics, and the opportunities afforded by connectivity to find better ways to move people and goods around the country and the world.
On the subject of logistics, April saw the eHealth Innovation Drones Showcase, which focused on drones emerging as a new medical tool that can help mitigate logistical problems and make healthcare more accessible.
Speakers at the showcase included representatives from the Royal Flying Doctor Service, government, and companies including Swoop Aero, that operates high-speed autonomous airborne logistics networks, and Flyfreely, a Queensland-based start-up that is building software to allow any organisation to use drones anywhere in the world for any application.
A couple of very interesting events towards the end of April included a Visiting Entrepreneur Meetup in Toowoomba at which Alex Moss, Founder and CEO of Canaria delivered a presentation on her journey to being named 2018 Women in Technology’s Start-up Entrepreneur of the Year Canaria’s technology allows for the continual monitoring of vital medical data without impeding on a person’s work, and it has found use in sectors from manned space exploration to predictive health care.
MTAiQ are in discussion with Ms Moss to see if the Canaria Wearable Medical Device can be of use to MTA Queensland members and the wider automotive industry.
The last event on April’s calendar saw MTAiQ Community Manager Nathan Nguyen take part in Mentoring on the Inside – a project in which mentors work with released prisoners from Borallon Training and Correctional Centre in building skills and confidence as they prepare for a life outside of prison and back in the community.
GOT AN IDEA? LET US KNOW!
Part of our mission here at MTAiQ is to help develop the concepts and ideas that can help shape the future of the automotive industry and assist businesses to evolve and have a successful role to play in that future.
Our team has assisted numerous start-up and established companies to connect and network with the wider automotive and business community and find new avenues to develop their ideas. And we can do the same for you.
As we all know, the automotive industry is evolving fast and as American businesswoman Jennifer Hyman noted, “Industries that are chaotic are ripe for innovation. They are open to anyone who has an idea.”
So, if you have an idea that you think can be developed into a product that can be part of that evolution, then let us know.
We really can help!
Until next time.