Silicon Valley Reinvents the Wheel 2016

Western Automotive Journalists event a big hit in the center of West Coast automotive technology.

By Brian Douglas

Display-&-Truck2wFor the last six years, WAJ has produced an automotive technology conference, gathering journalists, automakers and technology experts together with car demonstrations and informative panels. Two years ago, we elected to ramp up our conference, moving to The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, a venue with a central location and first class meeting and display space.

We learned quite a bit at our successful 2016 conference and on October 5th of this year, our second Silicon Valley Reinvents the Wheel was an unqualified success- attendance was sold out. For 2015, we teamed with the Churchill Club and AutoTech Council, two important Silicon Valley organizations that helped provide top talent and guests. Two hundred technology executives registered for the daylong conference, thirteen automotive brands were represented along with Tier One suppliers. And this year, the conference received major media coverage. You can find the full schedule here.

A Few Highlights
Early arrivals spent time evaluating a wide variety of vehicles in the museum’s large front parking area that’s reserved for our event. The exhibits included fuel cell cars from Hyundai and Toyota, electric and plug-in vehicles, infotainment systems with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and advanced hi fidelity from Alpine, Bose, Harmon and Tectonic. Look for an espresso truck to join the fun next year.

CNET’s Brian Cooley began the program inside in the big Hahn Auditorium with an Full-Room-woverview of trends and what the panels would offer. Then Veerender Kaul, Frost & Sullivan’s Vice President of Automotive and Transportation gave an overview of the industry. Kaul talked about timelines for alternative fuels as well as quickly emerging technologies including autonomous driving progress.

Mid morning, the AutoTec Council’s Liz Kerton introduced five startup entrepreneurs who each took the stage to pitch their technology. They were all interesting, but the most entertaining was the facial recognition technology from EYERIS. Its CEO J. R. Alaoui gave a real-time demonstration of his software that was convincing enough to solicit an inquiry from a major automaker’s lab.

The Infotainment and Connectivity panel followed with KIA’s Harry Bezih, GM’s Dan Kinney and Jaguar/Land Rover’s Matt Jones in an interesting dialogue moderated by Charlie Vogelheim. With both Apple and Google bringing mobile connectivity into car interiors, OEM systems and competition for driver attention, there’s a lot of growing interest in this space.

Automotive sound technology is more than hi fi these days. It also includes sonic enhancements for performance cars and mitigating external noise. WAJ’s Brian Douglas moderated a panel of experts from Alpine, Bose, Harmon and newcomer Tectonic, a company with new speaker technology found in Bentley models. Alpine’s Jim Walter brought a video demonstrating how the company built an entirely weatherproof hi fi system for the Jeep Wrangler and Tectonic punched up impressive sound from its speakers on either end of the stage. Following the panel, attendees were able to check out a great gathering of vehicles and gourmet food trucks during the lunch break.Dining-outside-w

After lunch, the program resumed with Michael Coates moderating a Zero Emissions panel with Dr. Alberto Ayala, Deputy Director of the State of California Air Resources Board and Dr. Morton Grosser, a Stanford and MIT schooled physicist and Silicon Valley venture capitalist. Ayala asserted that California’s aggressive carbon elimination program was attainable with new technology. Grosser spoke of the efficiency yet to be attained from petroleum and energy sources with wide infrastructure.

Google’s Robotics and Machine Learning chief Dave Ferguson took the podium and Google-Self-Driving-wdelivered an informative and entertaining presentation of his company’s autonomous driving progress. His highlight was the story of a Google vehicle encountering an elderly woman in a wheelchair chasing a goose back and forth across a city street with a broom. The vehicle’s camera footage was omitted for privacy, but the computers followed the action in front of the stopped research vehicle. You can’t make this up, let alone program for this occurrence.

That now famous question of whether the fully autonomous vehicle will decide to either save the occupant or the school children in a potential head-on collision and who is responsible for that decision was one of the ethics issues tackled by Stanford and Santa Clara professors. Since computer programmers can’t possibly code for every possibility, remember the broom-wielding goose chaser, some thorny issues were part of the discussion. Brian Cooley led a thoughtful discussion of Artificial Intelligence Ethics with a panel weighing in from an engineering, philosophical and legal viewpoint.

Attorney James Pooley, the former Deputy Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization, gave a compelling update on Cybersecurity. Pooley also ventured his opinion on VW’s scandal and how some corporate cultures can isolate management from problems that people outside the glass walls easily discover.

Academy of Art University design students are finding their way into major automaker’s studios with the reputation of the Industrial Design School now competitive with Pasadena’s Art Center and Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. Director Tom Matano and Associate Director Antonio Borja discussed how today’s designers consider interiors for autonomous vehicles where staples like steering and control aren’t required. It’s a fascinating concept to explore.

NVIDIA’s automotive director Danny Shapiro plunged into deep learning, an area of expansion for the visual computing firm based on its powerful processors. With new vehicles consuming more computing power than any other sector, it’s created a vibrant tier-one supplier structure right here in Silicon Valley.

Muri-Fuel-Cell-demo-wCNET’s Wayne Cunningham moderated the Road to Future Cars panel with representation from key Silicon Valley labs and technology offices. Panelists Nick Sugimoto from Honda Silicon Valley, Dr. Frankie James, GM’s Advanced Technology director, Delphi SV lab director John Absmeier and Dr. Maartan Sierhuis from Nissan’s Research Center in Silicon Valley took turns discussing where the automotive future was headed.

After a network reception, Eric Larsen provided the keynote address with WAJ’s BrianStanding-Room-w Douglas. Larsen shed some light on demographic trends that are counter to the notion that America’s population will cluster around transportation hubs and eschew car ownership. That’s more an aspiration of civic planners than the reality on the ground and perhaps good news for those of us who cherish personal freedom.

LA Auto Show’s Connected Car Expo (CCE)

cccThe rules for how vehicles are made, sold, serviced, owned and integrated into a multimodal transportation system are changing and the playbook is being written at LA Auto Show’s Connected Car Expo (CCE). The award-winning auto-tech conference and trade show unites the entire ecosystem defining new mobility.

CCE is where the New Automotive Industry gets business done, unveils groundbreaking products and makes strategic announcements in front of media from around the globe. The first of three LA Auto Show Press & Trade Days, CCE 2015 will take place at the JW Marriott (across from the L.A. Convention Center) on November 17, where more than 30 expert speakers and 40 exhibitors will take center stage.

Media may apply for credentials to attend both CCE and LA Auto Show Press & Trade Days HERE; non-media WAJ members that register by Nov. 1, can use special code 2015PARTNER to save $200 on any CCE pass.

REGISTER NOW.
http://laautoshow.com/join/

EVENT INFO.
LA Auto Show’s Connected Car Expo
JW Marriott L.A. Live | November 17, 2015
LA Auto Show Press & Trade Days

WAJ August 2015 Meeting

Academy of Art August is a busy automotive month with lots of events including a full week in Monterey, it will be well worth joining us Wednesday evening, August 19th to learn about Academy of Art’s automotive design school and its collaboration with Jaguar’s future F-Type development. Fellow member and the school’s Executive Director Tom Matano will bring his Associate Director Antonio Borja to present the program.

David Hart Joins Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca as Public Relations Manager

MRLS_vertMONTEREY, Calif., February 24, 2015 — Seasoned motorsports communication professional David Hart will be joining the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca team as public relations manager, effective March 2.

Hart brings a wealth of experience to the Monterey circuit, having most recently served as director of communications for the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) that runs the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship series, which is Mazda Raceway’s opening race May 1-3.

“David’s deep knowledge of the media and sport will provide an immediate impact in our ongoing public relations initiatives,” said Gill Campbell, CEO and general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “We are extremely fortunate that David is coming aboard at the start of what will be one of our finest racing seasons in recent years.”

Prior to his stint with IMSA, Hart worked with the 8Star Motorsports GRAND-AM team. He also spent 15 years at Richard Childress Racing (RCR) where he led competition communications for the team before taking the role of director, corporate communications, overseeing strategic communications for many of Richard Childress’ business ventures and outdoor conservation activities.

Hart previously held management positions with Sonoma Raceway, the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and the Cotter Group, where he managed sponsor communication activities in NASCAR and NHRA.

“Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is one of the great motorsports venues of the world so it’s an honor to help continue its unmatched legacy,” said Hart. “I’m fortunate to have worked with some very successful organizations and am confident being a member of Gill’s team will add to that list.”

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s major event season features the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix, powered by Mazda (TUDOR United SportsCar Championship), May 1-3; eni FIM Superbike World Championship GEICO Motorcycle U.S. Round, July 17-19; Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, August 13-16; Pirelli World Challenge, September 11-13; and Porsche Rennsport Reunion V, September 25-27.

For more information and ticket prices, visit MazdaRaceway.com or call 831-242-8200.

 

Silicon Valley Reinvents the Wheel 2014

DSC_0528The “Silicon Valley Reinvents the Wheel, How Technology is Transforming Automotive Powertrains, Retail, Connectivity and Autonomous Driving” Conference cosponsored by C3 (Connected Car Conferences) and WAJ was recently held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View Ca.

The informative conference was a series panel discussions and brought together automotive and technology industry experts  to discuss where the industry is headed. Read More.

2014 – 2015 WAJ Board of Directors

President: Brian Douglas brianTwenty-two years ago, Douglas and a group of automotive writers founded the Western Automotive Journalist organization and since then Brian has helped guide its successful journey. Brian is the automotive editor for GentrySV and Ranch & Coast magazines, a former contributing editor for Autoweek, former automotive talk show host at KSFO and is currently an automotive contributor for Bay Area radio and TV stations. Brian is returning to the board after serving as interim president of WAJ in 2013-2014.  Contact Brian at President@WAJ.ORG

Treasurer & Vice President: Michael Coates MC in SacramentoMichael has worked as the editor in charge of a monthly enthusiast magazine, 4Wheel Off Road Magazine, reporter/photographer for a weekly newsmagazine and a daily newspaper, assistant editor for automotive and motorycle trade magazines as well as freelance work for a variety of publications and broadcast outlets. Currently he isI an editor of the Clean Fleet Report, a consumer website covering the electric car and alternative fuel vehicle space, as well as contributing to magazines such as Innovation & Tech Today, and appearing as an automotive expert on television and radio. Michael has served WAJ as President and Media Day Chair & Co-Chair as well as having organized the Future Cars/Future Technology and Silicon Valley Reinvents the Automobile programs. Contact Michael at Treasurer@WAJ.ORG

Secretary: Larry Rinek Larry serves as a senior technology consultant for Frost & Sullivan in the Technical Insights (TI) Division. He has been with Frost & Sullivan over 15 years in various capacities. He has authored numerous studies concerning advanced technologies and markets for automotive, aerospace, advanced materials, and other industries. Larry authors the monthly Automotive & Transportation Technology Alert (a private newsletter) for TI.  Larry has over 24 years of research and consulting experience with various industries and technologies at SRI International, including many automotive projects. He enjoys a broad strategic perspective on how engineered products (such as motor vehicles) are successfully conceived, produced, and marketed. Often engaged to examine market prospects/trends as well as product technology and manufacturing issues, Larry helps organizations improve their business position.  As a trained engineer (B.S.) with hardware design and prototyping experience, Larry brings hands-on technical passion to his automotive work. He remains active in technical societies such as SAE International (24 year member), has authored more than 25 scholarly publications/tech papers, and is a frequently sought out speaker for industry conferences. Contact Larry at Secretary@WAJ.ORG

Executive VP Events: Alex Dykes alexdykesAlex produces detailed automotive videos for the Alex on Autos YouTube channel and his own website. He is also a regular contributor to The Truth About Cars. As a working journalist covering automotive products and news.  Larry joined WAJ in 2012 and this is his first time serving on the board. His background in technology and technical writing has proven extremely helpful in his career as an automotive journalist. As a result of his prior experience, he enjoys writing and filming pieces that explain modern automotive technology from new transmission designs to the latest infotainment gadgets. Alex says that his recent transition from the written word to video has been a rewarding (and sometimes trying) experience. 
Outside of the journalism world his time is divided between IT consulting, fleet vehicle consulting and a project that will last a lifetime: building his own home in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  Contact Alex at Events@WAJ.ORG

VP Membership: Akitomo Sugawara AkiSugawaraAki is the Content Producer/Editor for Yahoo’s automotive portal Motoramic. He is an active member of WAJ and shares our vision to add accredited automotive journalists to our membership roster. Sugawara is well connected with automotive industry and plans on using those connections to recruit new members in his travels.  Aki is a confirmed Gearhead, as a child he would help his dad repair his MG, but Aki always thought he’d follow in his dad’s footsteps as a doctor, and starting off as pre-med student in UC Berkeley, he never expected to make a career out his automotive passion, yet here he is. He has spent more than 10 years as a journalist and author, covering a variety of fields including tech, video games and automotive. Aki joined Yahoo in 2011 as an editor and content producer, where he manages partner content and occasionally sneaks off to press junkets to write ornery reviews. Previously Aki worked for companies including Fox Interactive Media and IDG Entertainment, He has also written brochures for Subaru Global and authored a Gran Turismo official strategy guide.  Aki says: “I no longer mess with my dad’s MG, but have my own personal money pit with a 1991 BMW M5”.  Contact Aki at Membership@WAJ.ORG

VP Publications: Jon Rosner jonrosnerJon is a long time WAJ member who has served not only as membership VP, but has volunteered for extra tasks that have included putting phone banks together to build attendance for our bi-monthly meetings.  Contact Jon at Publications@WAJ.ORG

 

VP Programs: Charlie Vogelheimcharlievogleheim  Charlie is a thorough professional in our business, with a background that includes key positions at Kelly Blue Book, J.D. Power and Intellichoice. He’s currently the Editor and Host of Motor Trend Audio.  Charlie recently relocated to his native Marin from Southern California where he was active in developing programs and guest speakers for Motor Press Guild. He has also performed the same tasks for WAJ and currently serves on our Future Cars Future Technology committee. Contact Charlie at Programs@WAJ.ORG

Silicon Valley Reinvents the Wheel

How Technology is Transforming Automotive Power trains, Retail, Connectivity and Autonomous Driving.

On October 20th 2014 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View Ca., C3 and WAJ join forces for an event in the epicenter of innovation that will bring together thought leaders from the auto and tech worlds to discuss not only the future of cars, but also how technology is transforming transportation. The event will feature engaging panel discussions on topics ranging from next-generation powertrains and fuels to 21st Century automotive retail, from cutting-edge in-dash connectivity to self-driving technology, as well as advanced vehicles and product demonstrations from automakers, their technology suppliers and visionaries from Silicon Valley and beyond. Don’t miss this pivotal event. This is your opportunity to gain critical insight into the future of automotive technology. Register now to reserve your space!