Last week I bought a new car. Of course I was excited about the big purchase, though I also agonized as I finally gave in and bought my first car with an automatic transmission. This is huge for me as I have always driven stick shifts. I like to be in control of how the car is driven and only chose an automatic because I’m simply tired of my limited options here in the United States. The sales guy at BMW told me that only 3-6% percent of cars sold in this country have a manual transmission and the OEMs abroad don’t want to do the extra crash tests required for the U.S. market to appeal to such a small demographic.
Musing over my reluctance to give up my manual transmission made me think about advances in self-driving and semiautonomous cars and DAC. Well, I think about DAC a lot as you can imagine. While most of you are enjoying your summer, we are going full speed ahead with the planning process. Our monthly conference calls are starting in July and various teams are working on ideas for content as we speak.
Back to self-driving cars. Jim Hogan moderated an interesting pavilion panel on Tuesday, “Hogan’s Heroes: Self-Driving Cars – Victory Lap or Pile-up?” And the discussion around safety and security was quite interesting. Self-driving cars open up a whole bunch of ethical questions, including: Who will make the better decision in a certain moment, the car program or the driver? Discussion of such issues has even bubbled up in the mainstream press recently. Given my reluctance to move to an automatic transmission, I can’t imagine ever owning a self-driving car, and I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to join Kara Swisher on her ride in the Google clown car last month.
Talking about cars … I don’t know how many of you had a chance to check out the super cool flatbed truck we showed at the DAC Automotive Village. It featured the Route™ Powertrain from Wrightspeed, a “repower” powertrain kit, engineered for the delivery and service fleet markets. The Route replaces a truck’s diesel engine, transmission and differential, and provides impressive improvements in fuel economy and maintenance costs. Wrightspeed is working with FedEx in San Jose to outfit their delivery trucks with the technology. Founder and CEO Ian Wright was at the Automotive Village on Monday night for the cocktail reception. What a treat to talk to the inventor himself.
What’s your take on self-driving cars? If you attended Jim Hogan’s Panel, what did you think? And talking about the DAC pavilion, which features smart people in informal discussions, what topics would you like to see presented next year? As mentioned earlier, we are in planning mode, so now is a great time to share your ideas. If they’re good ones, I might blog about them in the weeks to come.