2017 – a review of our first year

This year has been remarkable for the automotive and technology industries, between mergers and acquisitions in the technology space, to new innovations, technologies and investments.

Waymo’s driverless vehicles are going in to public service in the US, and Uber has ordered 24,000 Volvo cars to create an enormous driverless fleet.  Closer to home, Jaguar Land Rover and parent company Tata have run driverless demos on public roads, last week we saw the UK government promise more investment for Robotics and AI, and the UK’s new Industrial Strategy launched to coalesce aligned and supportive industries to increase productivity.

Here at Sense Media Group, we’ve grown from 3 to 7 people, have run events in the UK and Austria, plus more workshops and demonstrations in the US and Belgium too, and we’ve been involved in everything from TV shows to development of standards and even government policy!

AutoSens, sister brand to Self Driving Track Days, has gone from strength to strength and has now become the most influential conference in the vehicle perception eco-system, globally, and will next year return to the awesome AutoWorld Museum in Brussels, as well as the Michigan Science Center in Detroit – and of course with driverless technology demonstrations at both!

The AutoSens Awards also launched, celebrating the engineers and technologists working in the commercial sector, as well as highlighting fantastic community efforts and journalism, as well as outreach and education projects supporting the self-driving car revolution.

It’s not just about us…

Some of the startups and smaller innovative companies in our ecosystem, as well as larger more established companies have had a great year too. AutonomouStuff and Quantum, last year’s series sponsors, are working together to create new products, while NXP and Intempora, another pair of last year’s supporters, are jointly marketing products too, finding new efficiencies and customers thanks to embracing our mantra of shared working and collaborative spirit. Innoviz Technologies, a small Israeli LiDAR startup we first came across at the beginning of the year, have ended it with a huge investment (more than $100m) and a haul of awards and plaudits from across industry.

Petrolheads are a significant part of this journey, and last week’s Guy Martin vs the Robot Car, on Channel 4, was an exciting demonstration of why it’s so hard to complete this development journey.  We first met the production team in November 2016 at our very first track event, so seeing the final results on TV is tremendously satisfying and great to see an understandable and accessible programme on a complex topic.  It was also great to see that the systems put into place by our friends at AB Dynamics, who demonstrated their technology at our first event, were able to beat the famed Roborace car! I’m certain that’s won’t take long to change though…

Save the date!

Coming to the year’s end gives us a chance to review what we’ve achieved, and sometimes that means doing things differently – so we’ll do fewer but bigger events… that includes working on The London Motor Show 2018 developing a brand new exciting feature there.

It would be easy to carry on as before but as an event organiser, it’s important to take on feedback so we are moving to a UK venue in the autonomous vehicle heartland of Milton Keynes and shortening the event to one day.

We trialed this event format in Austria in July 2017 and it worked very well for attendees and sponsors (who typically have quite large overhead costs to consider in their commitment to taking part).

The event will include a number of half-day workshops, a small exhibition and of course, our driverless vehicle demonstrations, with space for 150 attendees to come and take part.  Lunch will be included, and there will be a BBQ and karting in the evening as an optional extra.

Please add the date to your diary… Tuesday 10th July 2018 at Daytona Karting, Milton Keynes.

We’ll be confirming more details in early 2018, so if you are not already on the mailing list, please sign up now.

Signing off

I am looking forward to 2018 being a year when the media hype starts turning into real and lasting positive change, as industries start gearing up for the autonomous future.

Have a great holiday season and we’ll hopefully see you soon.

Alex Lawrence-Berkeley, Co-founder [LinkedIn]