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Self-driving cars and the future of autonomous vehicles

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Automakers, Silicon Valley tech companies and China’s internet giants are investing billions to put self-driving cars on the road. But just how far is the world from widespread adoption of fully-automated vehicles?

And, how will self-driving cars be regulated and insured? Which auto manufacturers are leading the charge and how are investors assessing opportunity in the autonomous vehicle space?

On Tuesday, Reuters hosted a Newsmaker panel discussion on the future of self-driving cars with CEOs, investors and other leaders in the autonomous vehicle industry. Moderated by Joe White, Reuters transportation editor, the panel included:

Evangelos Simoudis, co-founder and managing director of Synapse Partners, a firm that invests in early-stage companies developing applications that combine artificial intelligence with big data. Simoudis is a recognized expert in corporate innovation, big data, and digital platforms and author of the book The Big Data Opportunity in Our Driverless Future.

A photo of billboards in Times Square outside of the Thomson Reuters office in New York City.Simoudis said some companies see autonomy as another set of features that will be part of the next generation automobile, but others see an entirely new business model:

“The self-driving car race is about who is going to create the right model with the right set of solutions.”

Padmasree Warrior, chief executive officer of NIO U.S. and the company’s chief development officer. She is responsible for the brains of NIO’s autonomous, electric vehicles and the overall user experience, and has been widely recognized for her creative, visionary leadership. Forbes has named her one of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” for three years running.

Warrior saw the need to step back and ask why create autonomous vehicles, noting:

“Time is the new premium. We want to give people time back. [The] car will become a platform for entertainment, productivity, rest.”

Photo of panelists from Reuters Newsmaker on self-driving cars.

Steven J. Girsky, managing partner of VectolQ, an independent advisory firm, where he applies his more than 30 years of experience working with senior corporate executives, labor leaders, OEM leaders, suppliers and dealers, and national and local policy makers. Girsky’s more than 25 years of automotive experience includes serving as the vice chairman of GM for global strategy and the head of GM Europe.

Girsky said regulatory policy around self-driving cars would need to catch up:

“Technology is running ahead – policy is lagging. Who is going to certify the self-driving vehicle? Who’s going to do that and what’s the process?”

Watch the full panel discussion and Q&A here, view more of Reuters auto coverage, and explore the special interactive graphic on self-driving cars: Innovation boom.


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