Meetups and buildathons

We are not alone in wanting to shout about autonomous vehicles.  Alongside quickly growing meetup groups in the US, we have now run three in the UK, one in Belgium and a new group has just started another in Germany.

We’ve had interest from Austria, Australia, Sweden and Korea to replicate what we’re doing, but while you might ‘only’ see a few track events and meetups, there’s a lot more going on under the surface – we’re talking about driverless motorsport, university education, outreach, demonstrations, public lectures, residential training, recruitment events and much more – a cradle to grave approach to get people into the industry, trained and contributing as soon as possible, with a wealth of practical, hands on experience.

That will all take time to develop, and lots of the above will be announced and some even begin in 2017, so watch this space (and of course, join our meetup group and mailing list)

So I write this as a suggestion that you start a meetup, and get your hands dirty creating a driverless car as soon as possible.  The kits are out there, open source or extremely low cost, and you can start creating something right now – just start searching and playing with software, systems, track the influencers on linkedin, or twitter, read, play, learn and find out how you can make a difference.

600_456083398In California, CEO of 3DR Chris Anderson’s DIY Robocars meetup group is building, hacking and racing cars, closely tied in to the exciting innovation in that state (particularly in Silicon Valley) and supported by like-minded folk in the industry like PolySync’s Joshua Hartung and Self Racing Car’s Joshua Schachter.

img_6975In Berlin, Shreyas Gite, an engineer from Rolls Royce, has begun a meetup in Germany this month (pictured right, working hard with beers), hosted by our friends at Local Motors, with a view to weekly meetings to hack cars together for a first race meetup in April.

600_456522090Don’t let those job titles or fancy sounding employers fool you, these are people interested and excited by this subject, and you wouldn’t have read this far unless you were too… so do something about it!  There are also existing meetups in China and Singapore (pictured left, with bean bags)!

These events and activities are powerful because they are driven by the will to share knowledge. The world is moving in the right direction, but with so few running regularly, it should be pretty easy to double or triple that in 2017.

We have committed to monthly meetups and have three more track and training events remaining on our calendar before August 2017, the last of which, at Teesdorf near Vienna in Austria, will be our biggest – but there are other ways to get involved and contribute.

We are happy to support new meetups with event listings, have a steadily developing mailing list (500+ after only 4 months) – so if you’re in or near a city (ideally above 500,000 people), have an interest in driverless tech, search for a meetup – if one does not exist, create one! It might not be a walk in the park, or as easy as a driverless ride is now, but its easier to get knowledge to come to you than go out and hunt for it…

You never know, it might lead you into a much more stimulating 2017.

Although there’s still a lot of work to do for us, we’re gradually closing the office for the Christmas and New Year holidays. Thanks to everyone for their support in this very exciting first year, have a great holiday season, and here’s to a rip-roaring 2017!

Alex Lawrence-Berkeley – Co-Founder