FIA’s Innovation Fund invests in multimodal transport, autonomous drones, solutions for traffic management and much more.
You are not stuck in traffic, you are traffic!
Isn’t it funny how most of the time we’ll feel like victims and not accomplices whenever we get stuck in traffic? If you live in some of the big cities, the only concern bigger than safety is a traffic jam. It makes you feel like you are wasting away. Sometimes you’ll even be thinking that the people in charge are actively trying to stop you from getting home faster.
Could shared transport and multiple options of transport modes be the ultimate solution to this? This is a question that cities and mobility organizations have been grappling with for decades now.
In this episode, part 2 of 2 episodes, Ed Bernardon interviews Onika Miller, Acting Secretary-General of the FIA Mobility Division, and Head of the FIA Innovation Fund. Her job involves creating a safer and sustainable transportation ecosystem for the future. She’ll help us understand the innovations taking place in the area of mobility and the benefits we stand to gain from them. We’ll also discuss the importance of safety as well as steps being taken to promote gender equality in motorsports.
Some Questions I Ask:
- When do you think the City Trips app will become available in many cities? (05:40)
- Do you see clubs using advanced traffic simulation tools such as the Siemens platform to help their cities solve traffic problems? (10:57)
- What is Smart Cities Initiative about and what are its goals? (15:18)
- What is the goal of a drone Academy? (23:05)
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
- How City Trips app works (02:40)
- How Siemens helps the urban mobility platforms compile and analyze their data (07:21)
- How FIA is promoting gender equality and inclusion in motorsports (16:42)
- Why safety has to be at the center of current and future modes of mobility (29:32)
Connect with Onika Miller:
Connect with Ed Bernardon:
Ed Bernardon- You’re making your way through a major world city—think New York, Paris, Tokyo—and you suddenly realize your rideshare has ground to a halt in rush hour traffic… looks like your not going to make that important business dinner across town in this traffic. Now imagine you’ve got a plan B right in your pocket. With just the tap of your thumbs, you assess all possible combinations of public transport options—from bus, to subway, even shared bikes and electric scooters, all with one payment method.
For Onika Miller, the acting secretary general of the FIA’s mobility division and head of the FIA Innovation Fund, this isn’t just some far off utopian dream. The Innovation Fund has invested in a range of innovations across both mobility and motor sport. In mobility, there’s an innovation called City Trips that is already up and running in pilot form in several countries. City Trips is a multi-modal transportation solution, and it’s seeking to provide the users with a single point of mapping their journey across multiple modes of transport with a single interface, single payment point, with absolute convenience to the user. As someone who has made mobility their mission, Onika believes this app may have the potential to make a major difference in the use and efficiency of mass transportation.
Welcome to the Future Car podcast, I’m your host Ed Bernardon, and in part 2 of my conversation with Onika Miller we discuss her leadership at the FIA and their many projects currently underway. We talk about how data is the driving force behind many of these projects, including possible solutions to traffic management and congestion and how the FIA has made its goal to help people by reducing transportation inconvenience and disruption, from crosswalks to autonomous drones. Onika also tells me about the Smart Cities Initiative that is working toward championing electric vehicles, as well as the multiple programs the FIA is collaborating on to promote diversity and inclusion in mobility.
Ed Bernardon- You also head up the Innovation Fund, I’m sure there must be a lot of projects there like trying to make scooters safer.
Onika Miller- 37 projects.
Ed Bernardon- 37? Tell us about some of your main projects, the ones you’re most proud of.
Onika Miller- I don’t know, there are so many projects to really be proud of. So, the fund has been doing really well in being able to invest in a range of innovations across both mobility and sport. A lot of our projects are in sport. But in mobility, we have a lot of innovation in the provision of new forms of mobility. So, mobility as a service, one of the projects we’ve invested in is an app called City Trips. So, it is a mass solution, and it’s seeking to provide the users with a single point of mapping their journey. And the journey can go across multiple modes of transport, single interface, single payment point, absolute convenience to the user.
Ed Bernardon- Is this up and running now?
Onika Miller- So, it is up and running. It is with our club, RACC, in Spain. And it is currently up and running in Spain. They have a pilot also in Chile. And they’re in discussions with some other clubs to be able to broaden that pilot to expand the pilot. And we are supporting an expansion of their pilot phase.
Ed Bernardon- By being able to grab an app and easily schedule, could be a scooter connecting to the subway, has this resulted in an increased use of public transportation?
Onika Miller- So, it may be too early for us to tell whether it has increased the use of public transit, especially because what we have is it is available in over 22 cities within Spain. But one of the things that we’re now testing is the response in other countries to be able to demonstrate that this is an app that we can scale, that this is a service that we can bring to scale. What we anticipate that it will demonstrate is an increase in the use not only of mass transit but of the multiple modes. Because what you will see as a user is wherever you’re standing, all of the modal options available to you. And therefore, if you intended, let’s say, to take a cab, and to go from point A to B, but in looking at your app, you see that the cab is going to be 12 minutes away. But there is an eScooter that is right there, which you can utilize within two to three minutes and still get to your destination within a short space of time, depending on what you have with you, that might be a very viable option, and you may then opt to use that. It might be that a metro is right beside you, or a bus is going to be coming in two minutes. And given the time frame that’s projected, you will get to your destination still within the period that you need. So, it gives that user that choice. And the power of choice comes with more information and the convenience of a single payment.
Ed Bernardon- The convenience of the single payment. And knowing that you’ll get there sooner or at a particularly time. And we’ve all gotten used to apps like Waze that says, “You’re going to arrive at .” And if we arrive at , “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m three minutes late.” But by combining multiple modes of transportation, one, you could reduce that by even more time, certainly take advantage of more sustainable modes of transportation. But there’s one thing you said at the end is the convenience of saying, “I’ll pay you one time, somebody else worries about sending it to the public transportation system, which is the scooter company or whatever it might be.” When do you think that that’s going to become commonplace? Because I’d love to have that here in Boston.
Onika Miller- So, I think in terms of it becoming commonplace, it’s hard to tell. I know that our club rack would like to establish demand and to know that the demand is available, and they are quite willing to meet that demand. I would say, when I look at the number of mass applications that are out there in the market, I think we’re just a few years shy of that becoming something that we all can utilize. I don’t want to give a plug for any single supplier. But we all know what some of the shared mobility options did, and how that transformed the ability of the individual to be confident in moving in a city, in an unknown environment easily, and the ability to book it at will. I suspect that mass and this type of app will transform how we move as well.
Ed Bernardon- Data is so important in making something like this work. And of course, data is very, very valuable. And in order to make something like this work, you have to get the city to share with the scooter company to share with the mobility service provider.
Onika Miller- So, we have a wonderful project that taps into exactly that. And it’s a project that we’re partnering with Siemens on. And it’s an innovative urban mobility platform. And it really is not only allowing us to compile that data, but to aggregate it in one place and to analyze it, and to then draw insights from that data. So, it promotes the data sharing, and then the effective use of that data. It’s an exciting project. We are working with two pilo ne in Bogota, and they’re looking at making changes. And these will be traffic management changes in the historic city. And we are also working with Singapore. And that’s also a very interesting project when they’re themselves looking at other changes but not in the context of a historic city, but in terms of the congestion and better ways and more effective ways of traffic management. So, that project is a project that we’re very excited about. We’re keen to be able to demonstrate that with multiple partners providing information, you will end up in better outcomes for managing the city and for allowing for better decisions on the part of the city planners, but also on the part of the suppliers of these various mobility services.
Ed Bernardon- So, being able to get this shared data, And on that particular project that you mentioned, the idea is then to use that data in simulation, because it’s always easier to simulate something rather than to break concrete and make new lanes.
Onika Miller- Absolutely. The simulation and the modeling that this particular project offers, I would say, local authorities, municipal planners. It’s absolutely helpful for them because you don’t have the issues of annoying your population by trial and testing in the real environment. You can simulate and see what happens. In the case of Bogota, when they’re looking at making changes in the context of the old city, you simulate those changes. And based on the use of the data, it gives them a real example of what will happen if you route the traffic in one direction versus another. And it saves time, it saves cost, and it saves the aggravation of your local population if you get it wrong. So, it allows you, as a city planner, to have multiple iterations and land on the best one for your environment. And I think that’s one of the huge advantages that the urban mobility platform offers or partners. So, working with our clubs, connecting our clubs to the local authorities, or clubs being able to offer these services to the local authorities, I think is an advantage that is offered with the use of this project. Ed, you know, as you said with politicians, politicians are very sensitive to negative news from their local population. So, if you can save them the aggravation of changing your traffic flows and not working but by modeling it and proving that this is not the most efficient route, but here’s a better route.
Ed Bernardon- You know, I’ve never heard it put that way, but in a way, if you can use simulation to predict you’re going to get a complaint rather than waiting to get the real complaint, then the complaint never happens. It’s a complaint eliminator. Now, these clubs have been motoring clubs for many, many years. And using this example here of this project with Siemens, and now this use of simulation. So, now the clubs are going to add to some of the things they do is the use of advanced simulation tools, which it might not be something they’re used to doing. Do you see this as the trend for the future where step by step clubs in cities from smaller to larger ones will have to start adopting tools like this in order to help the cities that host them?
Onika Miller- Absolutely. I think there is a tremendous use case that has now been established. And this project will help to establish it even more. I think the clubs are already sensitized to the value of data, but more important to the value of the analytics of that data to be able to generate those insights. So data in and of itself has limited value. But when you have the analytics, when you are able to draw the insights from that data and apply it to various solutions within that particular locality. I think that’s really where you put data to work. And then the data works for you. So, I think that’s really one of the advantages. And I think the clubs are increasingly aware that this is an opportunity for them. One of the things that the project is also seeking to do is to encourage local authorities who traditionally have had a lot of data, but themselves have not necessarily been able to leverage that data, that there are great opportunities to partner with others within that ecosystem, so that we can, in fact, get those insights. And that can inform better design, better planning, and better services, ultimately. So, where the consumer benefits is as a result of the application of those insights.
Ed Bernardon- Everything you just said is all about how the FIA works with their clubs to partner with cities to try and make those cities better. But as a motoring club, especially with sometimes cars, especially internal combustion engine cars, are getting that bad reputation. So, now you’ve gone from a club or an organization that’s promoting driving to, say, “Well, driving is still important, it’s not going to go away.” But now you’re promoting, “Look, we want to be your partner.” This is a little bit of a transition.
Onika Miller- So, for many of our clubs, it’s not a transition that has been hard. If you look at many of our clubs started offering roadside assistance. And roadside assistance, at its heart, is about helping people. And you’re helping people to get on their way, you’re reducing inconvenience and disruption. At the very core of what you’re providing is that service of helping people. And if you have an automobile club as your trusted service provider, that if you had an accident, if for whatever reason your vehicle is disabled in any kind of weather at any hour of the day or night, and you are guaranteed to have a roadside assistance response from your automobile club. What your automobile club represents to you is a trusted partner, and that trusted partner is there to help you. We can help you not only with the roadside assistance. We can help you with home deliveries. We can help you with insurance services. We can help you with a range of things that relate to what is convenient to support you and your lifestyle.
Ed Bernardon- So, a good way to look at it then is the main goal is to help, safety, convenience. You’re really just adding another dimension. It’s almost like giving you a better tool, a better hammer so that you can do that in a greater dimension.
Onika Miller- That’s right. And the mobility clubs are committed to ensuring that their members have the convenience, have those services available to them so that they can enjoy a better quality of life.
Ed Bernardon- Now, you also have the Smart Cities Initiative, what’s that project about and what are the goals there?
Onika Miller- So, the Smart Cities Initiative – it’s a project that we’ve implemented in collaboration with Formula E, which introduced really unique championship that is promoting the electric vehicle, and it has been an excellent demonstrator of the innovation in electric technology. And for Smart Cities, we’re very much promoting a lot of the things that we’ve been discussing; new technology, innovation, creating more livable cities which are environmentally conscious and sustainable. And for that program, we also have an Innovation Awards, effectively, where we invite startups to pitch their ideas, and we recognize the best startups in each of these locations. And we’ve run a number of these smart cities forums in a number of cities around the world, and they all go alongside the Formula E competition. So, it’s been a really good complement to what Formula E is doing in really spearheading and championing the electric vehicle.
Ed Bernardon- Great track-to-road example.
Onika Miller- We think it’s not only a great track to road, but I would say it’s an excellent bridge between mobility and motorsport. And one that we expect will continue.
Ed Bernardon- Well, the FIA also has a lot of projects related to diversity and inclusion. I know some of those are on the motorsports side, so maybe you could tell us a little bit about those. But are there also projects in that area mobility as well?
Ed Bernardon- So, for diversity and inclusion, I think it was shaped last year, given the launch of our purpose-driven movement. And for purpose-driven, we’re really demonstrating globally our commitment to a more positive contribution and impact on society. And this commitment by the FIA relates to motorsport as well as to mobility. So, it’s our entire ecosystem given this commitment. And we have four pillars in purpose-driv ealth and safety, the environment, diversity and inclusion, and community development. And in the context of diversity and inclusion, we’ve had a really long track record which we’re quite proud of in promoting and increasing in female participation in motorsport. And so I will say that would have been our first foray in relation to diversity inclusion when we look at gender equality and promoting greater participation at different levels in motorsport for women and for girls. And we have supported through the Innovation Fund, Girls on Track initiative, which is seeking to bring greater awareness to young girls of the opportunities in motorsport, but equally to present to them, in a sense, the breadth of career that exists in motorsport beyond the driver competitive pathway. So that’s an important pathway which they’re exposed to, but that is a pathway that’s probably the most visible. There are so many jobs within the motorsport industry where young girls might simply not pay attention to and might be excluded from because it’s not visible to them.
Onika Miller- So, this Girls on Track program really targets these young girls and exposes them in a short session associated with our Formula E championship. And we hope to be expanding that further. We also have the Girls on Track Rising Stars, which is a talent detection and development program. And that is where we’re working with all of our clubs, and they put forward the best young female drivers who then participate in a competition, and that competition takes them all the way to a final. The top 10 go through a competitive selection process, but it’s a selection process that is also married with development. So, they are exposed to a series of courses and inputs and resources to support their development as young drivers. We’re very proud to have had the first winner of that program, Maya Wang, who was accepted into the Ferrari Driver Academy, the first female driver in the Ferrari Driver Academy. And with continued success, would be able to enter and have a season in the single-seater pyramid. So, it’s a fantastic project. We’re very proud to say that it wasn’t just the winner who did very well, but the top five girls in that program have all done very well, and have all been supported in their development pathway as young drivers. So, we want to be able to see more young girls coming up through the pathway and ultimately making it to the very elite levels of competitive motorsport.
Ed Bernardon- When do you think we’ll see a woman in the Formula One series? What’s your prediction?
Onika Miller- Hopefully, in a year. But given the pathway, obviously, you really want to have the pool of young girls that are participating in motorsport, get that as wide as possible. And so that takes time. So, it’s been 10 years to get us to where we are, I would say we would be far more ambitious and we want to achieve twice as much in half the time. So, I would say, from my standpoint, I would look forward to within a five-year period, we are seeing where girls are achieving that. But I think it will happen before the five years.
Ed Bernardon- Is the FIA involved in the W Series?
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Onika Miller- So, we are involved in the W Series. W Series has also recently signed a partnership arrangement or an agreement with Formula One. And so the W Series has also gotten a lot of attention through this arrangement with Formula One. Again, echoing the commitment to increase in the participation of women in motorsport, and to promote women in motorsport.
Ed Bernardon- And the W Series is a series where women compete and they run in conjunction with the Formula One races, not at the same time, but on the same day during the same events. And it’s things like this that can help you get that 10 years down to five years.
Onika Miller- Most definitely. So, we want to be able to increase the opportunity in terms of competition, so we have some dedicated competitions. You want to be able to make sure that at the grassroots level, you have as many girls that are excited and interested going into that pathway. Once that pipe becomes larger, you have greater volume going in, you’re going to find that you will have more girls emerging at the end, being able to enter the elite levels.
Ed Bernardon- Let’s talk a little bit about the future of transportation. There’s so much going on. You have autonomous vehicles, unmanned air vehicles, or even manned air vehicles, drones moving people around inside cities. And of course, you got to keep all your scooters, and probably a variety of all sorts of little electric vehicles running around the city. What’s your vision? How do you see all this coming together?
Onika Miller- So, let me just signal to you that we or automobile clubs are actually quite excited about the future of mobility when it comes to the new forms of mobility. And we’re investing in a drone academy. So, that’s one of the projects that’s been supported by the Innovation Fund. We are working with a club in Switzerland, TCS. And they are actually establishing a center of excellence, which will be called The Drone Academy.
Ed Bernardon- Drone academy. What does a drone academy teach you to do?
Onika Miller- So, The Drone Academy will, in the first instance, provide a pathway for other mobility clubs in better understanding the regulatory and the legislative space that’s required to be able to support the use of drones. So, the use of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles is a space that’s becoming increasingly focused on from a regulatory standpoint. And so for clubs that want to be able to offer this service, they need to understand that. And the TCS has already developed expertise and a great degree of knowledge around this. So, they’re going to be sharing that knowledge. So, the first aspect is the knowledge sharing on the policy and regulatory side.
Onika Miller- Then there is actual service itself, and how do you develop commercially viable services where the drones themselves become a new revenue-earning solution for our clubs. And this is part of what The Drone Academy is doing is to develop use cases for the drones. And for those use cases to become available and to be actually pursued by our member clubs. TCS itself has done some work in that regard, provide offering services using drones. And we see the future where drones become very much another mode of transportation, which will be commercially viable. We’ve seen examples in Africa, where it’s been used to transport medicine, especially in remote areas, whether that now becomes a form of last-mile delivery. Those are some of the things that are being explored. And we want to ensure that our clubs are positioned at the forefront of these new forms of mobility.
Ed Bernardon- And that’s actually, I was going to ask you, certainly, there are drones that could deliver packages, could be medicine, could be your Amazon order. But then there’s also the thought that they’re going to be large enough to transport a single person or multiple people, manned or unmanned. It’s a whole new dimension of transportation, certainly in urban areas.
Onika Miller- Very much so. When you ask me, well, what do I think or how do I envision this future? When I say multimodal, it is with the traditional and the new, the untraditional. So, those autonomous vehicles that we are now seeing in some environments, one, we will be seeing, ultimately, a proliferation of those. Once you get the regulatory hurdles, you overcome those, for any new and disruptive product or service, there’s always going to be that period where the regulatory space has to catch up. And once that happens, and you have mass adoption, then you’re going to see these vehicles become very much part of your city landscape, your rural landscape as the things that we just take for granted. Now, the unmanned aerial vehicles, part of what I foresee as the future does take that into account. I look forward myself to being able to move from point A to point B in an unmanned vehicle. In the same way, I look forward to the unmanned car, not just aerial vehicle, but which the driver no longer is driving, because it’s a driverless vehicle. And in fact, what you then do is you spend more time interacting than having one person designated to have to pay attention to the road.
Ed Bernardon- Oh, it’s the day we’re all looking forward to. And to make this happen, and I think that urban air vehicles, autonomous or not but probably electric, complicate this even more because now you need bigger and better charging stations; you have to have the grid supply all the power that they need; you have to figure out not only the interaction of driven and undriven cars but driving undriven cars and getting those cars to bring people to where the drones are going to pick you up and drop you off. There’s a lot of urban infrastructure – and even goes beyond the urban scene, it could go even into the rural sections of a region, say – does the FIA get involved in looking at these aspects of things, not just the vehicle but really the supporting infrastructure that you’re going to need in so many different aspects as all these different modes of transportation come together.
Onika Miller- So, the FIA, especially through our regional offices as well, particularly Region One which sits in Brussels, does look at these policy considerations, and actually participates in the discussions and in the development of policies around these issues. And additionally, at another level, I would say that our clubs are also anticipating the future needs and the future demand. And there are some of our clubs that are actually investing in electric charging infrastructure, that they are looking at what the demand in their own environment is, and is anticipating that, and making those investments now with a view to being able to be available of and to provide those services in the future. So, at both levels, both in terms of policy and also in the supply side, the FIA is there as FIA itself through our regional offices, and then also at the level of our clubs.
Ed Bernardon- So, with all these things unfolding, the future transportation, be it the vehicle or the urban infrastructure, the FIA is obviously playing a part in this. So, of all the things the FIA is doing to help our future of transportation unfold, which is the one that you’re the most excited about?
Onika Miller- I think, for me, sustainable mobility. And that’s because it captures the technology that’s driven behind the autonomous and connected vehicles. But at the same time, being very responsible and recognizing that the impact that our choices have on our environment, where the build and the natural environment are very important. So, ensuring that we redesign and we create for the future, a mobility that serves not just us but future generations, I think, that’s really, in a nutshell, what sustainable mobility is also about, and that’s the most exciting for me.
Ed Bernardon- One of the things that I always thought was unique and very, very interesting about the FIA, and we’ve talked about it here and there in our discussion today, is you work with the big cities, but then you work with that little village somewhere. As this future transportation unfolds, what excites you at the village level versus the big city level? How are they the same, different? What can you tell us? Because I think that we tend to think about the future of mobility based on where we live. I think, “Oh, what’s Boston going to be like? Or Paris going to be like in 10 or 15 years?” But I know there’s a video that the FIA has where these children are trying to cross the road, and they’re dodging traffic, and somehow they get to the other side. That’s the problem they’re facing.
Onika Miller- That’s a great question. And I think that video is a good starting point of the answer. You look at that video, and what strikes you is; one, the speed; two, that they’re crossing this multi-lane highway. So, what they don’t lack is the infrastructure. Because the infrastructure is there in relation to when you think of typical transportation infrastructure. What was missing was what we might consider to be fairly basic, which was the pedestrian crossing; a safe way of transiting this super busy highway, this roadway that you cringe at. And then if you look further in that video, you actually expect the fatality in that video to be with those kids in that remote environment. And the fatality came in a very urban developed environment with a youngster running across, not being seen and being hit. I think it’s a stark reminder to all of us that in the future of mobility, regardless of what options we finally land on – and those are going to vary from country to country, urban, suburban and rural – we will see a fair degree of variation. But in all of that, what I think is going to be most important is that safety must be central.
Onika Miller- Whichever choices that we take, when it comes to mobility, safety must be at the very center, because what we are protecting, goes to the heart of who we’re trying to transport. So, even if we’re transporting goods, goods are going to people. If we are delivering services, it’s for people. And then of course, if it is that we’re moving ourselves, that people are at the heart of it, and we have to ensure that all the forms of mobility are safe. In terms of the infrastructure itself and all of what it offers, in the future, to the same extent that drones are being used now in most rural areas, in villages, and are being tested to see whether it can provide a service in accessing providing medication to persons who are somewhat cut off. That’s technology that’s advanced. And in some cities, it doesn’t exist; we’re not yet seeing the use of drones in that way. So, I think we’re also going to be a little surprised in the future that the modality that’s been used might be counterintuitive. We might assume it should actually be in the urban center, and you’ll find that it might be used in rural areas. What I think is increasingly possible in the future because of the pervasive use of technology is that countries and cities and villages are going to adapt with mobility choices and solutions probably a lot faster because they have the information. No longer do you have to actually go physically to Paris.
Ed Bernardon- It could be the incubators for the technology that goes into the cities.
Onika Miller- I think it will be symbiotic. So, some things will be incubated in villages that might have value and can be exported to mega-cities. There are going to be technologies and solutions that are used in mega-cities that have to be scaled differently. For an application in towns and in villages, the issue becomes one of scale. But I think the core of those technologies and the services that they offer, as long as they offer convenience, as long as they are safe, I think we’re going to see an increased demand for those services. But in all of this, accessibility becomes very important. And as we move towards a future of mobility, we have to ensure that it’s inclusive. And it’s not a future of mobility which creates divides. And it’s not a future of mobility that is accessible only to a few. So, my hope in the future in the context of the autonomous and connected vehicles is that that becomes an enabler for citizens everywhere to be able to experience greater convenience and safety.
Ed Bernardon- I think what you’re hitting on here is probably one of the great benefits that the FIA, especially the mobility part of the FIA can provide. Because coming from the technology side, like we were saying earlier, you’ll tend to look at that problem in terms of my city. And even in your city, there are different types of people. But when you open that up to the world, and you look at the differences, “Well, we’re trying to solve how to get an autonomous drone to work with an autonomous car that’s hydrogen-powered.” And then at the same time, on the same planet, these little kids are running across highway dodging cars. One would think that if you could apply technology to that, and maybe it’s as simple as doing a crosswalk, but you can’t solve the problem until you know it exists. And in some ways, certainly working in some of the work that we’ve done with the FIA, that video of the children crossing the road is a great example of how you’ve opened up our eyes and probably for many people all over the world, of all the types of problems we have to solve. And not only that, but once you start to solve them, these little towns can help the big city solve their’s.
Onika Miller- Most definitely. We see the ecosystem as one where there is value from all the partners, all the participants in that ecosystem. And there’s much that can be learned across the ecosystem. So, I give you an example of one that as you say where you see the difference in how we applied. Safe Schools Zones, it’s a program that FIA delivers every year through our clubs. And our clubs, we have grants that our clubs participate with, and they design projects around a safe school zone. In some environments that may be as basic as putting in those crosswalks. And in other environments, it may require some restructuring of the school, where how the school is located, and the egress and access to the school itself. In other situations, it’s the training that’s necessary. It looks different across each of the countries, each of the clubs that we’re working with, but what’s in common is this commitment that our school zones must be safe and there’s a certain type of infrastructure that should be available to all.
Ed Bernardon- Onika, I want to thank you for joining us here on The Future Car Podcast. I think you’ve certainly opened up people’s eyes to show them that the FIA is a lot more than just about motorsports. Thank you so much for joining us.
Onika Miller- Ed, thank you so much for having me. And it really has been a pleasure. I look forward to listening to several more of your podcasts as well.
Ed Bernardon- Well, before we let you go, though, we want to end up with the part that’s the most fun, which is the rapid fire. And so we’re going to ask you a few questions – some about yourself, some about your relationship with cars and transportation. Are you ready?
Onika Miller- All right.
Ed Bernardon- All right. What was the first car you ever bought or owned?
Onika Miller- Isuzu Gemini.
Ed Bernardon- Isuzu Gemini. Oh, I’ve never even heard of that one. Is that a Jamaican-only model?
Onika Miller- No, but you can Google it. And it was a sporty one too.
Ed Bernardon- A two-seater?
Onika Miller- No, it was a sedan, but one of the faster models.
Ed Bernardon- So, you like to drive fast?
Onika Miller- I do.
Ed Bernardon- So, did you pass your driver’s license test on the first try?
Onika Miller- I did.
Ed Bernardon- Did you ever get a speeding ticket since you like to drive fast?
Onika Miller- So, I am a safe driver. I did get a speeding ticket once.
Ed Bernardon- Only one time?
Onika Miller- It may be more than once. But I distinctly remember that speeding ticket. I might have had two or three speeding tickets – probably two – but I distinctly remember that one. It was on Christmas Day. And I was rushing to the office. I’d just visited my parents and I was collecting some meals to drop at the office. I worked with the office of the Prime Minister and I was taking some meals to the security staff that had been on duty all day. And I was like 10 minutes before closing for the restaurant. In fairness, in my defense, you know, when you have a speed limit change?
Ed Bernardon- Mhm.
Onika Miller- So, I’d just come off of the bypass, and the speed limit had just changed, and I had not decelerated quickly enough.
Ed Bernardon- I think they do that on purpose sometimes, just so they can give you a ticket.
Onika Miller- So, I was caught in that zone.
Ed Bernardon- Well, if you told them the story that you’re bringing meals to someone, they should have let you off then.
Onika Miller- Afterwards, the policeman said, “Well, where were you going?” And I explained. Because it was his colleagues. At the Office of the Prime Minister, the security is a police force. And he said, “Well, if you told me that.” I said, “But no, you need to do your job.”
Ed Bernardon- No special privileges for the Prime Minister’s Office.
Onika Miller- But I took the ticket. I said, “No, you needed to do your job. I didn’t want at all for you to influence by what I was doing.”
Ed Bernardon- We actually touched on this earlier, but we like to talk about the living room on wheels – the autonomous car where you don’t have to drive and you can do whatever you want. So, you’re on your five-hour trip, maybe from Paris down to the Mediterranean or something, what would you have in your living room on wheels, your autonomous car?
Onika Miller- I would have my iPad. I would have books. I would have the most interesting people and my friends with me. So, the good thing about that vehicle is nobody needs to be focused on driving, we can just enjoy the experience and each other.
Ed Bernardon- What person, living or not, would you like to spend time with on that five-hour drive? Could be anybody that’s ever lived.
Onika Miller- Nelson Mandela.
Ed Bernardon- What’s your greatest talent? Not related to anything you do at work. Or it could be related but something, you know, what’s your greatest talent? Maybe you’re a great singer or I don’t know.
Onika Miller- Hardly. I would say taking care of people.
Ed Bernardon- What do you wish you better understood?
Onika Miller- I think I wish I’d better understood how to move people to the point of a decision.
Ed Bernardon- If you could give advice to a young Onika, let’s say 12-years-old, your magic machine have allowed you to do that, what advice would you give her?
Onika Miller- Dream big, be open, and work hard.
Ed Bernardon- If you could magically invent one thing, what would it be? Anything. Here’s your chance. You have to hurry. They’re going to take your chance away.
Onika Miller- If I could invent one thing, it would be my ability to make music. You asked a question earlier, you know, if the talent was singing, definitely not.
Ed Bernardon- Oh, you could invent a machine that makes you a world-famous singer. That’s perfect. Oh, that’s a great one. Probably one of the best answers I’ve ever had on that one. If you could un-invent one thing, what would it be?
Onika Miller- War.
Ed Bernardon- Tell us something about yourself that would surprise your friends and family, and all our listeners.
Onika Miller- That I’m extremely shy.
Ed Bernardon- You would never tell from this interview. One last thing, I just have to ask you this, is I’ve always been a fan of Bob Marley. Speaking of music, what a great contribution to music he’s made.
Onika Miller- Well, you see, that’s why if I had the chance, that’s what I’d want to be able to do.
Ed Bernardon- What is your favorite Jamaican band?
Onika Miller- Third World.
Ed Bernardon- Onika, thank you so much. That was fun. Really appreciate it. And thank you so much.
Onika Miller- ed thank you too. It’s really been a pleasure. I’ve enjoyed this.
Onika MIller- Guest, FIA Acting Secretary General FIA Mobility Division
She joined the FIA in March 2020 as Head of the FIA Innovation Fund (FIF) and since February 2021, has also been serving as ad interim Secretary General Automobile Mobility and Tourism. She is responsible for activities of FIA’s Mobility Division, representing FIA mobility clubs worldwide. This includes facilitating effective exchange of information and best practices, representing member clubs at the international level, and building regional co-ordination and co-operation for common strategies, public policies, and initiatives. A proud Jamaican and committed global citizen, she previously served as Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister where she provided technical and policy support to three Prime Ministers.
Ed Bernardon, Vice President Strategic Automotive Initiatives – Host
Ed is currently VP Strategic Automotive Initiatives at Siemens Digital Industries Software. Responsibilities include strategic planning and business development in areas of design of autonomous/connected vehicles, lightweight automotive structures and interiors. He is also responsible for Future Car thought leadership which includes hosting the Future Car Podcast and development of cross divisional projects. Previously he was a founding member of VISTAGY that developed light-weight structure and automotive interior design software acquired by Siemens in 2011, he previously directed the Automation and Design Technology Group at MIT Draper Laboratory. Ed holds an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, B.S. in mechanical engineering from Purdue, and MBA from Butler.
If you like this Podcast, you might also like:
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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.