We were delighted to exhibit at this years Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal. Aside from being an excuse to visit a fabulous sun drenched country, it was a most enlightening event with a whole new world of technology emerging all around us, including some interesting movements in auto tech. The event attracted a lot of high profile public figures and celebrities, including Al Gore, President and PM of Portugal, Stephen Hawking, Wycleff Jean and high profile government and financial types, hence the maddening airport like security entering the event every morning.
Self driving cars and ‘smart cities’ were discussed heavily, and many significant advances in commercial transport and fleet logistics, the first areas we are beginning to see driverless vehicles. Public transport in some cities around the world are also piloting driverless trains/buses or aiming to do so soon. Autonomous driving still has a lot of speculation and doubters, and sure the technology is far from perfect, it is getting damn close. I was extended a personal invite to check out an actual self driving car, I could not go far in the confines of the conference grounds but it was interesting to see how well the car reacted on its own to the environment around it.
We took the opportunity to figure out how best to scale our operations from industry leaders, as well as seeing what else is happening in the software eco-system for auto repair. Some of the most interesting avenues are of course further integration with 3rd party data services and parts services, we were hoping some of these may have been at the Web Summit but unfortunately not.
Interaction between shop and customer is something we will explore more as well as updating our mobile experience, we are in talks with several agencies that may be able to help in speeding up delivery on this. Further expansion in the mobile space can allow a better shop-customer experience and this is high on our agenda now, but more on these developments at a later time.
The conference was more focused on AI and FinTech, these topics were hotly debated not just technologically but also philosophically and in terms of the impact AI and robotics are and will have in our future, exciting times would be an understatement on what is on the way. One of the most interesting was a talking robot that was somewhat self aware, proclaiming that it fears itself, therefore so should humans also, for me, this is a little too close to Terminator and Skynet already and we are only dipping our toes! The rise of the machines is very real and humanity does need to exercise caution and responsibility with new technologies, the military often tend to ignore such warnings as history tells.
Most casual conversations with other attendees tending to wind up on the subject of blockchain and Bitcoin, so much to the extent that during the three days of the event there was a significant dip and immediate recovery in bitcoin valuation, and blockchain startups were well represented and some with very novel and charitable concepts, one notable one was for helping fund education in Africa.
Below are some of the better automotive related shots we got at the event, unfortunately no footage of testing the self driving car.
Formula 1 Racing Car
Remote controlled cars, drawing on a canvas, it was fairly nuts at the end of the day!
Al Gore Closing Speech