“Autonomous vehicles are coming to America, to the world. This is the future.” So declared Secretary Ray LaHood, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation and a Senior Policy Advisor at DLA Piper at our long awaited Autonomous Vehicle event that took place on March 14th in collaboration with our friends at Herzog Fox & Neeman.
Our timing could not have been better. Just one day earlier, computer chip giant Intel announced its intent to acquire Israeli based Mobileye, a leader in autonomous driving technology, for $15.3 billion — the largest ever acquisition of an Israeli tech company — in a move that the companies hope will “accelerate the future of autonomous driving with improved performance in a cloud-to-car solution at a lower cost for manufacturers,” according to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich.
Barely a day goes that by that there isn’t a story in the news about autonomous vehicles, whether it is the Intel/Mobileye deal, Dubai’s recent announcement that it plans to launch its driverless flying taxis as early as July 2017, or California’s proposed regulations for the testing and deployment of fully self-driving vehicles. The wave of the future certainly looks more like it is the wave of tomorrow.
And this is what we focused on at our Autonomous Vehicle event last week. Secretary LaHood’s keynote focused on the future of transportation, including not only autonomous and connected vehicles, but the cyber risks that come along with increased vehicle technology, as well as drones and the increased demand for accessible and affordable transit by millenials.
Our investor panel entitled “Where are we now?” and moderated by Ronen Hausier, Partner in HFN’s Technology & Licensing, Hi-Tech Group, focused on what the current opportunities are in the market for various stage investors and perhaps more importantly, the opportunities that Israeli investors may be missing. Panelists included Boaz Mamo (CEO & Co-Founder, DRIVE), Ariel Sella (Managing Director, Capsula, Smart Mobility @TAU), Ofer Schreiber (Partner, YL Ventures), David (Dede) Goldschmidt (Managing Director, Head of Venture Investments, Samsung Strategy & Innovation Center, Israel), and Israel Ronn (President & Founder, Spotam).
Our company panel moderated by Michael Granoff, Founder of Maniv Mobility, was aptly entitled “Where are we heading?” and focused on the companies’ developing technologies, OEMs and Tier 1’s vs. tech companies, Israel’s role in the new mobility world, and predictions about the future of the autonomous vehicle industry. Panelists included Onn Haran (Founder & CTO, Autotalks), Jesse Sultanik (Marketing Manager, Argus Cyber Security), Ariel Sobelman (President, HDBaseT Alliance; VP of Corporate Alliances, Valens), and Eran Shir (CEO, Nexar).
The overall message from all our participants was summed up perfectly by panelist Eran Shir, CEO of Nexar: “Today, we have cars with CPU’s. Tomorrow, we will have computers on wheels.” Fasten your seatbelts, we are almost there.