I’m still processing all of the information that I learned at the MOVE America conference in Austin last week. It was a fantastic event filled with some of the brightest minds in the autonomous vehicle industry. Below are the 3 key takeaways that I think can benefit anyone who is looking to keep up with this fast-evolving sector.

Partnerships are Everywhere

The number of partnerships between traditional companies and newer technology startups was exciting. It is very interesting to see companies like Daimler focus on what they do best, rather than attempting to build their own self-driving vehicles from scratch. Instead, they are partnering with companies like Torc and Waymo to embed their technology into the Cascadia line of trucks. Through this, they’ll be able to offer autonomous driving in a commercial vehicle that meets the needs of their customers—which is game-changing.

Like most mobility events, innovation was everywhere. This one was particularly interesting due to the sheer volume between traditional companies and innovative startups – such as FedEx and Aurora, or Navistar and TuSimple.

These partnerships highlight the importance of going beyond just building “cool technologies”. It’s not just a matter of having better products—it’s also about how you produce those products, who you sell them to, and how much profit they bring in.

Air Traffic Control, Coming to a highway near you

Navigating the future of autonomous driving is a complicated task. The technology is advancing rapidly, but so are the regulatory and safety concerns. As systems become more advanced, it’s becoming clear that we’re moving towards an ecosystem where centralized operations centers manage fleets of self-driving cars.

The idea is that instead of having each car operating independently and making decisions only based on its own observations, you have a central “base of operations”. All of the vehicles communicate back to this command center, benefiting from each other’s observations (such as traffic and construction zones). It’s like air traffic control for the road. It’s a big change, and it’s going to have some major consequences. One of the most important of these is that this centralized architecture will require us to build out an infrastructure for that kind of data transfer.

Connectivity is Critical to Safety

My biggest takeaway from the conference was a clear focus on safety. During almost every session, the speakers came back to what impact their products and services will have on improving the safety of our roads. Whenever discussing the value they were providing, one of the clear drivers (pun intended) was the vision of Zero Fatalities. 

As we’ve been hearing for years, connected vehicles are critical to the future of transportation. They will allow us to transform our cities into safer and more efficient places, ushering in a new era of connected mobility. In order for this dream to become a reality, there are still advances and progress needed in our mobile infrastructure—especially as we look towards 5G technologies with the promise of higher speeds and lower latency. Building out this infrastructure, connecting these vehicles, and sharing this data across partners is going to be critical to creating safer roads. 

In Conclusion

This only scratches the surface of the fantastic conversations I had at this conference. I’ve been picturing the deck of the Starship Enterprise ever since hearing about command centers. A small group of people orchestrating the fleets of autonomous trucks and robotaxis. Events like this remind me why we are building what we are at V-Markings, the ability to maintain a digital twin of our road networks. Updating maps in real-time and providing CAVs with the safest routes through changing roads and work zones will save lives. 

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