Bringing Sustainability and Privacy to Autonomous Ride-Sharing with Felix Andlauer – Part 1

Are ride-sharing and privacy mutually exclusive? They don’t have to be…

Ride-sharing and the loss of privacy

One of the biggest barriers to ride-sharing is the loss of privacy.

Most people prefer to ride in a car in silence without feeling like they are being rude. This is one of the biggest benefits of owning a personal car.

However, the congestion brought about by people’s love for personal cars is simply not sustainable. That’s because it significantly increases carbon emissions and degrades the rider’s experience.

Solving this problem would require an affordable electric mobility service that supports ride-sharing and still offers privacy whenever it’s needed. That is exactly what one company is seeking to achieve.

In this episode, the first part of two, Ed Bernardon interviews Felix Andlauer, VP of Mobility Solutions at NEVS – a Swedish electric and autonomous vehicle (AV) manufacturer founded in 2012 with the vision of shaping mobility for a sustainable future. He’ll help us understand the goals of AVs and what it will take to make them sustainable.

Some Questions I Ask:

  • What problem should autonomous cars be solving? (05:23)
  • How do you create a sense of privacy in ride-sharing? (09:47)
  • Is the need for privacy the same in all markets around the world? (14:39)
  • What policies do you think should be put in place to take advantage of AVs? (16:50)

What You’ll Learn in this Episode:

  • How NEVS addresses the congestion, land use, and electrification issues (06:20)
  • How a NEVS car differs from other AVs (20:06)
  • What NEVS learned from a workshop with differently-abled people (24:06)
  • The different components contained in NEVS AV (26:54)

Connect with Felix Andlauer: 

Connect with Ed Bernardon:

Ed Bernardon: The capabilities of autonomous vehicles are increasing and are getting better and better. Do you think that autonomous cars will ever be able to talk to each other, almost like humans? 

Felix Andlauer: Do you mean talk to each other in terms of that they share their sensor data with each other? Or do you mean like XO talking?

Ed Bernardon: Yeah, like a conversation. For instance, let’s imagine that your autonomous vehicle pulls up to a traffic light. And early this year, we had the Chief Safety Officer from Zoox on the podcast. So your shuttle pulls up next to the Zoox shuttle, what would it say? What do you think they talk about?

Felix Andlauer: I think they’re really nerdy. They would say, “What’s your utilization rate?” Or something like that. So something really nerdy about the service quality. I don’t think they care a lot about acceleration.

Ed Bernardon: Don’t you think that your shuttle is probably cooler and it might want to have a more fun conversation?

Felix Andlauer: Since our shuttle is Swedish, they’re not great small-talkers, so it’s probably just very bad at small talking. And I expect the Zoox one to be really talkative, and American, and so on.

Ed Bernardon: I guess, a Californian, right? 

Ed Bernardon: The autonomous car world has its ups and downs. And right now, we are in a down slope as it’s quickly becoming apparent that the once-promising vision for autonomous vehicles may not be as easily attained as previously imagined. It seems we are still years, or maybe even decades, away from these vehicles becoming commonplace. But what if we changed what we envision for a driverless-car future? What if we appealed to customer and community demands in a different way? If you’re familiar with the Gartner hype cycle, it tracks the change in our expectations when a new technology is introduced and how these expectations change over time. Autonomous cars have gone from the peak of inflated expectations, four or five years ago, to now landing in what Gartner calls the “trough of disillusionment.” Which is where one starts to wonder if these things are ever going to work and this is not surprising as we are seeing some AV companies run out of money like Argo AI that has been shut down after losing Ford’s investment. So, what’s really happening with AVs? Today, on The Future Car podcast, we have Felix Andlauer. He’s the VP of Mobility Solutions at National Electric Vehicle Sweden or NEVS. He is going to give us some insight into what it really is going to take to make autonomous vehicles a success, and specifically, what NEVS is doing in this area.

Ed Bernardon: My guest today, Felix Andlauer, is the VP of Mobility Solutions at NEVS — a Swedish electric and autonomous vehicle manufacturer. NEVS was founded in 2012 with the vision of shaping mobility for a sustainable future. NEVS’ goal is to create a new mobility ecosystem that reduces the number of vehicles on the road with four distinct parts: a city infrastructure interface, a customer interface, telematics and fleet management, and the actual autonomous electric vehicles. In Part 1, we discuss the current state of the AV industry, and he explains what sets his company apart from other AV startups. We covered what the real goal of autonomous vehicles should be and what NEVS is doing to solve the challenges of autonomous, electric vehicles especially when it comes to privacy. Join me, Ed Bernardon, on this episode of The Future Car as we take a fresh look at autonomous vehicles. Felix, welcome to The Future Car podcast.

Felix Andlauer: Thank you very much for having me.

Ed Bernardon: Let’s pick up on that right away here. Ford has taken the billions that they had invested in Argo AI for Level 4 autonomy, and now they’re saying, “Hey, we’re bringing it in-house. We’re going to invest that in Level 2 or 3.” And there’s a lot of people out there that say, “Hey, look, the failure of AVs and AV companies is not really technology but it’s more about the fact that companies have made these big bets on AVs and they’re not paying off.” What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree with that assessment?

Felix Andlauer: Yes and no. I think it’s very important to look at the business model that companies have. At NEVS, we’ve said for a long time that technology like autonomous driving needs to come with a new business model. We believe we should use it to provide shared mobility services because if you just see autonomous driving as an add-on feature that you can put on your privately owned car, then it’s probably not worth spending the billions that many companies have spent. What we’re seeing now, I think, is that a lot of companies get to the realization that if they want to stick to their current business model of selling privately-owned cars to private customers, then AV is probably not as valuable as they’ve thought. So they make either the decision to go for new business models or they go for the Level 2 or  Level 3 autonomy that fits better to a privately-owned car.

Ed Bernardon: If you take a step back, because there’s been all this hype about autonomous cars, what is the problem? Or why is it we need autonomous cars? What’s the problem that autonomous cars should really be solving, in your opinion?

Felix Andlauer: Again, if you would just add autonomy to a privately-owned car, then the problem you can probably solve is while you sit in your car, you can take off the hands of the steering wheel, and we don’t think that that’s the problem we should use that technology to solve. So we believe that maybe the three fundamental problems that we need to solve in cities are: congestion; the amount of traffic jams we’re stuck in; the land area we use for car-related infrastructure — so, mainly parking; and the third one is to transition to electrification is simply not going fast enough. So, we think that with the right business model, autonomous vehicles can actually solve all those three problems.

Ed Bernardon: Congestion, land area, using as best you can, and then this transition to electrification. How do autonomous vehicles help with those three things? How is NEVS addressing those three issues?

Felix Andlauer: If a vehicle is autonomous and you use a fleet of autonomous vehicles to provide a mobility service, pretty much replacing the privately-owned car with a service, one vehicle can serve a lot more people so you need a lot less parking. In Europe, you normally have four parking lots per car; in the US, this number is even higher. So a lot of land area is used for that. If you have fewer cars that are shared by more people, then you need less space for parking. Then congestion, the main problem is that very often we sit alone in our cars, especially when we drive to work during the traditional rush hour times. And in those times, we need to share rides. And we think that autonomous vehicles can be a great way to improve the overall situation and enhance ride-sharing, and by doing so, take vehicles off the road, especially during rush hour. The transition to electric vehicles is simply, at the moment, we are already building electric cars as fast as we can, but one electric car is always just replacing one internal combustion engine car. But if one vehicle within an autonomous fleet could replace maybe 5 or 10 cars on the road, then this transition to electrification would go much faster. Of course, always assuming that the autonomous vehicle is electrical.

Ed Bernardon: So, explain how you think one autonomous vehicle could replace 10 cars. How does that equation work? 

Felix Andlauer: In general, we use our privately-owned cars 3% to 5% of the time. And 95% to 97% of the time, they’re just standing still. If there’s a fleet of autonomous vehicles that you can simply use them like Uber. Whenever you need to go somewhere, you call for a vehicle and it picks you up. Then, of course, my mobility need doesn’t exactly happen when everyone else’s is, so the same vehicle can serve a lot more people by simply running 50% to 60% of the time instead of only 3%.

Ed Bernardon: So, a lot of the time these vehicles are parked, but the number of vehicles that would actually be on the street at a particular time doesn’t really change that much unless you can get more people into one vehicle. It sounds like that’s the key.

Felix Andlauer: Exactly, and you need to do both. We think that we need to have purpose-built vehicles. So the autonomous vehicles you see driving around mostly, the standard passenger cars with an add-on retrofitted ADS sensor set, those vehicles were built with a customer in mind that knows everyone in that car; they are not built to be shared amongst strangers, people are not comfortable with that. Whereas if you really make custom-built autonomous vehicles, where you focus on providing privacy to every individual passenger, then you can actually create an interior in a vehicle that makes people comfortable sharing. We think that it’s a lot about the space in the vehicle that determines if people are willing to share a ride. 

Ed Bernardon: And that makes sense because a lot of times they’ll say, “Oh, I want to take an Uber just for myself. I really don’t want to share it.” So how do you go about creating this sense of privacy even though you’re sharing? Describe your vehicle. 

Felix Andlauer: Imagine it has the outer dimension of a normal minivan, so it’s about 4.8-4.9 meters. It’s a four to six-seater depending on the interior setting. It has these kinds of large swing doors on both sides — so, four individual doors. The interior can transform into different modes. And when it’s in private mode, it has four seats in two rows where the interior of the vehicle is divided into four equally sized cells. And between two seats of one row, we always have what we call a privacy wall — it’s a dividing wall that can slide up and down, and in privacy mode, it’s up. So, it’s this kind of semi-transparent wall that you see that someone is sitting behind but you can’t, for example, read the other person’s screen. And then for every one of those cells, you have an individual door, so if there are already three people in the car and you are the fourth to be picked up, then only your door opens, you get your individual seat where you don’t disturb the others and the others don’t disturb you. What we’re aiming for is the same level of privacy that you would have in your own car but in a shared ride.

Ed Bernardon: We’ve all been on an airplane, and you sit down and you say, “I don’t want to talk to anybody.” It would be great in an airplane to have this privacy wall. I guess that’s what you’re talking about. In other words, the privacy wall goes up and says, “I just want to be by myself. Leave me alone.”

Felix Andlauer: You don’t even have to be rude, and you do that as an active choice. If you book with just one seat in a vehicle and not the whole vehicle, then it already comes in that setting. So it can automatically adjust itself when you’re picked up, the privacy wall is already up so you don’t even have to be rude to that other person when the other person starts talking.

Ed Bernardon: One of the things I think that people like about Mobility as a Service versus the way taxis used to be is you book it on your smartphone, you get in, maybe give a tip, and you get out. You don’t have to fumble for your credit card. I think that this is an element that really taken to the next level. I’m getting into this small little shuttle that could be for six people, but I just want it to be my environment. Click-click on your smartphone and then you get in. It’s seamless like that.

Felix Andlauer: To me, the first choice you make when you open the app is you have to choose, “Okay, do I want to book the whole vehicle and have it all for myself? Or is it enough for me to get one seat?” And of course, the price will be different.

Ed Bernardon: Oh, so you can even book the entire thing all for yourself?

Felix Andlauer: We think it’s very important that you can do that as well because although we need to share rides to get the number of vehicles on the road down, and many times people aren’t, you just need one seat. But if that would really be all the mobility needs you have, then more people would own a motorcycle. We still own five-seater cars, although we most of the time only need one seat, because sometimes we don’t want those five seats, and therefore, we think it’s important that our service, whenever you book the whole car, you can get six seats and use the entire space to transport your family or friends or whatever.

Ed Bernardon: It’s an interesting point, especially when it comes from the aspect of sustainability, is the goal should be to move someone around with the least amount of weight of the vehicle that is moving them on a per-person basis. That’s why they’ll say an electric motorcycle would be quite sustainable compared to one person driving in an SUV. Your ability here to be more sustainable or take better advantage of what’s on the street is really moving more people with less vehicle, it sounds like, on a per-person basis.

Felix Andlauer: Yes, exactly.

Ed Bernardon: Why can I just do this with a regular human-driven car? Sounds like a great idea that you could take everything you just said and put a human driver in it, why not? And then we could have it right away.

Felix Andlauer: Because we think, for this transformation to really happen, two things have to be true. Firstly, the service needs to be as good or better as the thing it replaces — the privately-owned car. So we have the same level of privacy but, for example, you don’t have to look for a parking spot, you don’t have to do maintenance, and so on. So it needs to be better, but it also needs to be cheaper at the same time. There is no way you can get it to be cheaper than driving your own car if you have to pay a driver. It’s that simple.

Ed Bernardon: So it’s really about eliminating the cost of the driver.

Felix Andlauer: Or if you will see the other way around, autonomous driving is enabling us to do this. And before that, it would simply not be possible.

Ed Bernardon: The driver also takes one of those seats, it takes a room inside the vehicle. So instead of having six in there, you only have five. This need for privacy, do you think that’s the same, say, in all the markets in the world? Is it the same for Europeans and Americans or Asians? How do you see that differing around the world?

Felix Andlauer: I think, between the US and Europe, I couldn’t tell that there’s a big difference in the need for privacy. Of course, in developing countries, the expectation would probably be lower. But of course, I think it’s mostly coupled with living standards. As soon as you reach a certain living standard, you expect a certain level of privacy. In the US, it looks a bit like many cities have simply accepted the dominance of the car as a transportation mode. Whereas in Europe, it’s more like cities are still actively making policies to get cars out of the cities. And when we approach a city in Europe and tell them about our concept of privacy and how we think we can make people sell their cars and use our service instead, European cities will be willing to help us with policy and they are actively trying to get the cars out of the city because there are more alternatives like public transport and cycling infrastructure and so on. Whereas, in the US, probably the value of this shared privacy might be slightly lower because the willingness to get cars off the roads seems to be lower.

Ed Bernardon: Why do you think that is? Why do you think in the North American market or the US market, it’s that way?

Felix Andlauer: It’s certainly because public transport plays a much smaller role in American cities. It’s also when you compare the land area that they use. For example, Houston and Paris have the same number of inhabitants, and I think Houston is like 15 times the area of Paris. So, European cities are much more compact, and having parking lots in the city in Europe is just a much bigger waste maybe because the premium on land is much bigger.

Ed Bernardon: And that makes sense. Getting back to this people-per-square-foot in a vehicle; the greater that becomes, the more they’re concentrated together, then there’s more need for public transportation and there’s more desire to get cars out. You mentioned the word “policy.” So the success of autonomous vehicles or the system that you’re developing here, to a great extent, depends on policy and what urban environments and urban governments will decide they want for their city. So, what policies have you seen that have been put in place, or even more importantly, what policies do you think should be put in place so you can take advantage of autonomous vehicles like you’re developing?

Felix Andlauer: I think there are plenty of things that cities would like to do if they had alternatives. So, you can see, for example, in Paris, there’s a scheme where they reduce the number of parking lots every third year or something to make it less attractive to own a car. But all those things are really tough to get through if there is not a good alternative. But as soon as you can provide an alternative, then it actually gets much easier to do stuff like that — for example, reduced parking and available parking lots. Other things we’ve seen and we think will be super valuable are, for example, bus lanes. You’re not allowed to use bus lanes, but during rush hour, cars with at least two or three people in them are allowed to use that bus lane. Then, of course, we’ve seen people putting dogs into their cars to fulfill this requirement and so on. So, there are always loopholes, but these kinds of things will be super interesting. And from our perspective then if a person can choose, “Okay, I can drive to work in my own car and it takes me two hours, or I can use a NEVS service and it takes me half that time,” it becomes really easy to make that choice.

Ed Bernardon: So, when you approach a city trying to sell your services, your system, and they ask you, “What policy could we put in place if we can only put one in place? What should we do?” 

Felix Andlauer: It’s a very theoretical discussion because I’ve never, so far, encountered this situation.

Ed Bernardon: Oh, you can have a couple if you want, as many as you want. What would be the key ones that you would like to see?

Felix Andlauer: I think the two I have just mentioned: reducing parking lots, and as soon as you share your ride, making that ride faster are probably the most effective ones. And I think the general discussion with a city always first has to start with that we need to convince them that we are actually part of the solution and not part of the problem. Because if you would see privately-owned autonomous vehicles, then the KPI we’re always looking at is passenger kilometers per vehicle kilometer, and that number needs to be high. But if you look at a privately-owned autonomous vehicle, then that number actually goes down because it drives when you have a mobility need and it can also drive empty. So, an autonomous vehicle that is owned by one person is actually increasing the problem and not solving it. So, for us, it’s super important that we can demonstrate that we are part of the solution. And then if we can demonstrate that, then cities will be willing to help us.

Ed Bernardon: I think your example is a real good one because if you had an autonomous vehicle that you own personally and you went somewhere, there are no parking spots, you just want to go in and grab a cup of coffee, you just tell it, “Hey, just drive around for a while while I get my coffee and come pick me up in five minutes.” So, there you go, that’s hurting the problem. Plus, even if there was a parking space, now you’re taking it. And what you’re saying is, “Hey, you should never park. There are always people that need to move.” And you want to keep it as full as you can keep it. So if there are some people concerned about a full vehicle, let’s provide them privacy. Do you think this approach is unique to NEVS?

Felix Andlauer: I think that the whole Mobility as a Service with purpose-built autonomous vehicles, even maybe the ones that are driving at a bit higher speeds, it’s not at all unique. This flexible interior that can actually switch between different modes, depending on if you book just one seat or the whole vehicle, is something I haven’t seen anywhere else so far.

Ed Bernardon: And that’s key to getting people to want to use the system. 

Felix Andlauer: We think so, yes. 

Ed Bernardon: When autonomous car companies test vehicles, they love to test. Let’s just say Phoenix or Southern California — sunny, no snow, or hardly ever rains, the streets are in perfect condition with the perfect yellow lines. You are in Sweden, it’s dark, it can be cold, and it can be snowy. So, what do you have to do to your autonomous vehicles to make them successful in that environment?

Felix Andlauer: First of all, I think we need to mention that we don’t develop autonomous driving software ourselves. So, of course, a large part of that driving in Sweden problem is actually someone else’s problem.

Ed Bernardon: Who is developing the software for you? 

Felix Andlauer: We have a partnership with a company called Oxbotica that we think is really good, and that we really like working with because we think this whole Mobility as a Service, you need to have that ecosystem approach where you partner up with different partners, depending on the project. We also think that maybe there’s not one answer to who is the best AV company. I think it will probably depend on in which market and in which weather conditions. So, that’s our approach there. But we think that it’s super important that you don’t go for this feel-good, a bit easier scenario because, in the end, even in Arizona, it rains every now and then. And if your autonomous vehicle is only capable of driving when it’s not raining, then there are a lot of markets that you can’t really get into because if we want to really replace your privately-owned car, we net need to get into that commuting to work. So you need a solution that works every day, you don’t need a solution that only works when it’s sunny. If you don’t solve that, then you don’t really have a full business case.

Ed Bernardon: Now, Oxbotica, I would imagine, also provides their software to other autonomous car companies then. I would also imagine that you’re probably unique and that you’re the farthest north in the most cold climates. So when you start to test their software, you’re probably finding things that other autonomous car companies don’t find. So looking back as you’ve started to use that control software, what did you find that you think was unique to the conditions that you’re working in? 

Felix Andlauer: I think in our case, the autonomous vehicle we’re using, we’re driving around on our factory site, so we don’t have a public road permit for that vehicle yet. So we haven’t encountered super difficult conditions in our internal testing. And it’s also important to note that Oxbotica, what we really like about their approach is that they have this general AV approach where they want to use the same software stack in very different applications. So they are already operating in mines, in off-road conditions, and so on. When it comes to weather conditions, for example, we might not even be the hardest scenario they are working with. 

Ed Bernardon: Yeah, especially if you’re offroad because now you don’t have those perfectly outlined streets and lines and that type of thing. Recently, you had an accessibility workshop where people that have physical, visual, cognitive, or sensory challenges — you spoke with them and you wanted to make sure you were addressing their needs when you design the vehicle. What did you learn in that workshop that you didn’t know before the workshop started?

Felix Andlauer: There’s, of course, a lot of small things that we’ve learned that are super important. But I think, for us, there was not this one big insight that turns all our development upside down, but it wasn’t really what we were expecting either. For us, we didn’t see that as a one-time workshop, but more like we start as early as possible to integrate those views into our development and to build a network of testers that we can always approach whenever we have a new solution. And then also, for us, we brought all our development team and the UX designers in because we think that even maybe the UX designers, they leave that workshop and they can tell you, “Okay, I’ve learned exactly this,” but simply by interacting with people that have this known and felt experience, they will have that in mind next time they design something. So, for us, we more believe in the process and not that much in this one big invention that will solve everything.

Ed Bernardon: So a lot of times when people are inventing things or designing things, they don’t always consider people that might be cognitive or physically challenged. In order to make a vehicle go from being capable of servicing everyone, how much of a change is there in the design of your vehicle when you do take into account people that may be more challenged physically or mentally? 

Felix Andlauer: I’m really not an expert on this topic, but what’s interesting is that there’s a lot of really low-hanging fruits that there are just these tiny changes: make the handles that you grab in a different color so that it’s easier to see them. Stuff that is really, really easy to do that already helps a lot of people. And then, for example, designing a version of your app that a blind person can use. That you have parallel queues — so, it’s a visual queue which door is opening, but there’s also a sound and things like that. So, there are a lot of things that don’t even cost much and that you can do. And then, of course, there are things that are super hard. It’s impossible to aim for solving all edge cases at once. But if you try to look at all of them, then you can at least find the 90% of cases that you can solve with 10% of the effort.

Ed Bernardon: We had Professor Harry West from Columbia recently on the podcast, and he teaches human-centric design, and he said exactly the same thing you just said. Sometimes you don’t really have to spend that much time or that much money to grab a much larger group of people. Maybe you don’t make it perfect for everyone, but you make it 75% or 80% better. So, an important thing, if you’re designing a drill, an autonomous car, or anything in between, is to open up your perception of what it is that you’re really trying to do and accomplish. So, tell us a little bit about your system. It’s not just a vehicle, an autonomous shuttle, but there are other components. So break down what these components are, what they do, and how they work together.

Felix Andlauer: For us, it was really important to have this user-centric holistic approach to designing the overall service. So, the service, of course, the vehicle itself is a very central part of that. The overall service we’ve conceptually divided into four parts, it’s the vehicle that we call Sango. So we have those Esperanto names for all the components. So, Sango is the blood. Then we develop a fleet management systems that orchestrate the whole service and that takes care of all the back end and communication that we call Koros — the heart that pumps around the blood. Then we develop all the user interfaces — the app. But also any user interface in the vehicle that we call Okulo, the eye. The fourth part is the interface to all digital and physical infrastructure, charging, but also maps, for example, that we call spin-on, the spine. For us, it’s super important that even though about 85% of our developers and engineers are working on the vehicle because we think that this will make the largest difference, it’s super important that we develop it as a whole and not sub-optimize one subsystem of the whole service.

Ed Bernardon: What’s the advantage of designing it as a whole over just designing it separately as just a vehicle?

Felix Andlauer: I think, in general, the problem is that if you’re just designing the service, then all you have to work with is existing vehicles and you can try to put those to use. If you only develop the vehicle, then the only thing you can think of as who provides requirements to you is existing services. But if you have those two degrees of freedom to play with at the same time and optimize, there are just a lot of optimized solutions that you wouldn’t otherwise find. Maybe as an example, the privacy walls that we have between the passengers at the moment are just big enough to give you that feeling of privacy, but a question we get often is related to female security. As a woman gets on to our service in the evening, and then she has to share the ride with a couple of men in a really confined area and would probably not feel comfortable in that. And if you would try to solve that problem just in the vehicle, then you would have to have really safe dividing walls. Whereas if you look at the whole thing and the whole service, it’s clear that these situations mostly occur at nighttime when we don’t have full utilization of our fleet anyway, so it’s much easier to simply send everyone their individual vehicle even if they just book one seat. And by doing so, let this situation never happen. But this is an optimization that we couldn’t find if we just look at the car or just look at the service.

Ed Bernardon: And that’s a really big point. Like you said, if someone’s worried about their safety at 2 am in the morning, they don’t want to get into a vehicle with strangers, could you say, “I’d like to order to be just women? I’d like to have a ride but I want to have it with people that want to talk about politics or cooking,” or something like that. Do you think it might even go to that someday where you can customize your trip and all the interactions that you’d have in it?

Felix Andlauer: We’ve thought a lot about it. If you consider the core business to transport people, then, of course, we see hundreds or thousands of possible add-on services. Like your example, we want to talk about the same topic so we drive around and talk about it, which I would love if that exists. But also a guided city tour that brings your interest in a certain movie that was shot in that city, and it drives you to all those places and you can have some AR (Augmented Reality) experience with your phone or stuff like that. And we think there are a lot of add-on services where maybe what you’re selling is not A to B, but it’s driving around. Party cruising is something we’ve talked about. So instead of hanging out at a bar before you go to a club, you’d drive around and talk to people and drink in the car.

Ed Bernardon: If you think about the internet, or maybe a smartphone is a better example, and people say, “Hey, here’s a smartphone. It’s a platform. It fundamentally does these things but you can put an app on it that does something very specialized.” That could happen here, where, “Oh, I want to create the cooking discussion car,” or maybe you even put up a world-famous cook in the car and they drive around with people. Do you see opening up your platform at some point where little startups could come in and create their autonomous world environments to get you into the vehicle?

Felix Andlauer: Certainly, I think the first pilots where you put a small fleet of vehicles somewhere in a confined area will be a lot about solving a specific mobility need. But as soon as we get to a point where these kinds of vehicles driving around the whole city have become a part of normal life, it has to work like that. Mobility is too central to a city’s life to be controlled by one company; it needs to be an open ecosystem, and that also means companies being able to sell add-on services. If I already have vehicles driving around with sensors, then the city can get the data of the quality of the roads and use that to make better maintenance of their roads and all these kinds of things.

Ed Bernardon: That’s part 1 with Felix Andlauer, join us on our next episode where we will dig even deeper into what the future of autonomous cars has in store for us. And as always, for more information about Siemens Digital Industries Software, make sure to visit us at plm.automation.siemens.com. And until next time, I’m Ed Bernardon, and this has been The Future Car podcast.

Felix Andlauer, VP Mobility Solutions at NEVS

Felix Andlauer, VP Mobility Solutions at NEVS

Felix Andlauer studied mechanical engineering in Munich and Gothenburg. From 2007 he worked with renewable energy in a variety of positions combining technical, business development and leadership tasks. In 2018 he joined NEVS as project manager for the newly started mobility ecosystem development project PONS. Since May 2021 he has been VP Mobility Solutions at NEVS.

Ed Bernardon, Vice President Strategic Automotive Intiatives - Host

Ed Bernardon, Vice President Strategic Automotive Intiatives – Host

Ed is currently VP Strategic Automotive Initiatives at Siemens Digital Industries Software. Responsibilities include strategic planning in areas of design of autonomous/connected vehicles, lightweight automotive structures and interiors. He is also responsible for Future Car thought leadership including hosting the Future Car Podcast and development of cross divisional projects. Previously a founding member of VISTAGY that developed light-weight structure and automotive interior design software acquired by Siemens in 2011.  Ed holds an M.S.M.E. from MIT, B.S.M.E. from Purdue, and MBA from Butler.

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The Future Car Podcast Podcast

The Future Car Podcast

The tech-driven disruption of the auto industry cuts across domains, from silicon and software to sensors and AI to smart traffic management and mobility services. Get the chip- to city-scale story in regular interviews with technologists at Siemens and beyond.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at https://blogs.sw.siemens.com/podcasts/the-future-car/bringing-sustainability-and-privacy-to-autonomous-ride-sharing-with-felix-andlauer-part-1/