NAIAS kicked off opening day at the inaugural AutoMobili-D, featuring everything from the fantasy of Hollywood animation to the reality of the emerging mobility space.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder gave remarks and helped inaugurate the AutoMobili-D exposition and Planet M – the state of Michigan-sponsored showcase of leading mobility companies and initiatives taking place in Michigan.
Waymo staged the world unveiling of the self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, which is one of 100 co-developed by the Google automotive unit and Fiat Chrysler Automotive. Waymo CEO John Krafcik, the keynoter at the opening of AutoMobili-D, said that some of these vehicles would begin appearing on public roads in California and Arizona later this month, adding to the 2.5 million in self-driven miles already compiled by Google-designed systems in vehicles around the world.
Pixar Animation Studios featured the global reveal of the first clip from this summer’s “Cars 3” and the debut of a life-size version of “Lightning McQueen,” one of the stars of the popular series of animated films.
Media also heard financial-services entrepreneur Dan Gilbert, who has helped remake Detroit, give an upbeat assessment of the Motor City’s current and future economy. Gilbert promised that the city would be seeing “$2 billion to $4 billion in new construction in the ground in the next 18 months” and the erection of a handful of buildings of more than 25 stories over the next several years.
Fontinalis Investment Chief Chris Thomas, head of an early Detroit-based investor in mobility services and concepts, said “Detroit’s past and present has positioned us well to drive the future of mobility, to become one of its global hubs.” He noted that “transportation is the second-biggest expense” for the average U.S. household and that a new age of autonomous transportation “will change the world.”
Also featured on day one of AutoMobili-D was a panel discussion hosted by Roadshow by CNET. Three key executives in the U.S. auto industry’s advance toward autonomous driving said that they expect rapid advances in mobility technologies, legislation and regulation, and consumer acceptance in a paradigm shift that already has gained remarkable momentum in the last two years.
Ken Washington, senior vice president of research and advanced engineering for Ford; Danny Shapiro, senior director of automotive for technology supplier NVIDIA; and David Strickland, former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and now counsel for the Self-Driving Coalition, made their assessments during a discussion at AutoMobili-D that was moderated by Tim Stevens, editor at large of Roadshow by CNET.