Our recent forum on the future of transport and the connected car in Monaco, concluded that, although we are some way off being able to beam up Captain Kirk, the development of transportation is evolving at warp speed.
Take the vision of Tesla founder Elon Musk to create a train-like system, Hyperloop, using vacuum tubes to whizz passengers along at close to the speed of sound. Musk wrote a preliminary design document in 2013 with a vision to create a route to cover the 350 miles between San Francisco and Los Angeles in 35 minutes, a journey that currently takes 90 minutes by plane. Musk has encouraged the development of the technology through open source methodology.
Los Angeles-based Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, in addition of its core team of professionals, is using a crowd collaboration approach to design and build a five mile prototype along the I5 in Quay Valley, Northern California, which will propel passengers from one end to the other in 15 seconds.
The firm has also reached an agreement to develop the technology in Slovakia and is in negotiation with other 11 countries. Over 540 scientists and engineers have assisted with the project and have invested more than $60m, which is expected to be topped up by an investment round in the summer.
Speaking at the forum, Bibop Gresta, chief operating officer of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, said: “Our transportation system is broken – think of traffic jams, pollution and building roads all over the land. Hyperloop is much more sustainable, using pylons above the ground and actually generating more energy than it uses because of the use of solar panels.”
The technology is also being developed by several other companies. Hyperloop One, also based in Los Angeles, last month completed an $80m series B round from a consortium including corporate venturings from US-listed industrial congomerate GE and French train operator SNCF.
Car companies are also quickly having to adapt to the new connected world. Anthony Headlam, chief technology officer of UK-based Jaguar Landrover, said the skills new employees needed now were often different from the traditional engineering qualifications the company sought in the past. Many new joiners have a software background and he came from mobile phone operator Vodafone.
The increasing connectivity of cars creates both opportunities and challenges. Insurance companies, for example, can analyse the data transmitted by cars to nuance premiums to favour better drivers but the development of driverless cars is raising questions about where liability should lie in the case of accidents. Car companies that in recent years made good profits from built-in navigation systems may lose that source of revenue as the mobile phone becomes ever more adaptable with the use of Google Maps and other apps.
As the Formula 1 Grand Prix practice was taking place in the background of the forum, held on a 4 45 meter yacht in Monaco harbour, Geoff McGrath, chief innovation officer at McLaren Applied Technologies, a division of UK-based car company and Formula 1 team McLaren, described how his company is using its engineering skills to generate new revenue streams by helping other types of organisations to improve efficiency.
He said: “We’ve helped [drugs company] GSK tweak their production lines, [accountants] KPMG to improve the efficiency of their audit processes and worked with Specialised to build a new bicycle. We’ve even worked with air traffic controllers to look at how long passenger aircraft are circling while waiting for their landing slots – that’s not so different to working out a pit-stop strategy.”
The forum organiser, Cassandra Harris, CEO of Venturespring, said “Today, we had an opportunity to hear about new, exciting technologies within the industry such as hyperloop, autonomous vehicles, applied artificial intelligence in car design, 3D printed cars and more. What we witnessed here in Monaco at the Venturespring Connected Car Forum is just the beginning of new collaborations and a joint effort between some of the biggest players in the industry to challenge what transportation really means in the 21st century.”
Read the full article here: http://www.globalcorporateventuring.com/article.php/14133/the-future-of-transport-and-the-connected-car