It was a little bit by chance that I stumbled over an ad for the MQ! Innovation Summit. What is it? MQ! Stays for Mobility Quotient. The goal of the summit is to define and, over the long term, establish the mobility quotient as a scientifically based standard for shaping the mobility of an organization or individual. It determines the level of flexibility of a person or an organization in the dimensions of space, time and society.
The MQ can be affected by technology, communication and processes and defined by following factors: spatial mobility, social mobility, temporal mobility, and sustainable mobility (Audi, 2017).
First interesting point was the procedure to participate. It was an application only process. Once selected, you had to pay a 160€ fee for the two day summit (excluding the accommodation). It was organized by the Audi AG in order to emphasize the fact that Audi wants to shape the future of mobility with the target to attract highly demanded talents in the digital fields.
A few days prior to the MQ! Summit, I could download an event specific app from Linkry Events which was great to plan the summit as it shows the agenda, the speakers, the attendees, and offers an internal messaging tool to get in touch. The app proved to be very valuable in order to increase the qualitative meetings with many attendees while keeping the agenda very personalized and organized.
The venue was the first encounter and big positive surprise. The setup was great with many different sitting areas both inside and outside, various food spots as well as a proper bar. Everything was premium and included in the ticket fee. Special thanks to the catering service and the great staff for offering such healthy and qualitative food.
Then it was already time for the kick-off of the MQ! Summit.
Guess who the moderator was for the two days: Jean-Pierre Kremer. He is known as a moderator, an entrepreneur and an owner of the most followed Youtube channel on cars in Germany.
First speaker was Rupert Stadler, CEO of Audi AG. He put the automotive producers in a more holistic environment of mobility providers. Of course, he was eager to mention the topic of autonomous driving. This step will make cars a platform for services, many services which could be used by the cars’ attendees during what he called the 25th hour. He didn’t disclose much though as the big news will be announced at the IAA next week.
Steve Wozniak on stage
As it is about going from product to experience provider, one of the great examples is Apple. Co-Founder Steve Wozniak himself was on stage to tell about how technology, knowledge and a bit of luck brought Apple from being a computer manufacturer to the current state of a data driven customer experience provider.
As an outlook for what we shall expect Steve shared that he is looking for more seamless experiences. Technology should enable to know our needs without having us to tell them. No thoughts about your smartphone battery level anymore. You won’t need all the collection of manually triggered apps anymore. People will start to watch in front of them again rather than looking down! That would be great!
The future of autonomous driving
Sacha Vrazic, Director of Autonomous Driving R&D at Rimac Automobili d.o.o., brought the audience back to the technical aspects and challenges of autonomous driving. Although full autonomous driving might be technically possible before 2025, it will then be limited to a limited number of premium/tech players. The real tipping point with full autonomy available for the mass market is forecasted around 2030 in the optimistic scenario, and after 2040 in the pessimistic scenario.
Sacha emphasized that OEMs, while of course working on making autonomous driving possible, need to think about what the car occupants will then do in their cars while being driven. Indeed, cars will become a platform for services including basic ones – playing, exercising, eating… – but also more advanced ones – medical diagnosis, temporal mobility…
A whole new type of mobility: The Hyperloop
The next speaker, Dirk Ahlborn (CEO Hyperloop Transportation Technologies), shared the challenges of developing a completely new type of mobility solution: The Hyperloop. In fact, it doesn’t fit into any current category including cars, trains and planes. As a consequence, there is a lot of work on both the technical and the regulatory topics regarding this potentially new type of transportation. Several companies work in parallel. Each of them wants to be the pioneer in offering this solution first. Dirk told about everything being on track to offer a first Hyperloop route before 2020 with signed agreements in India, South Korea, Dubai, Indonesia, UAE, Slovakia, Czech Republic and California. When first passengers will be on board, engineers are already thinking about making their journey as pleasant as possible in a tube without view to the outside; displaying personalized virtual reality around each passenger seems to be an interesting option…
Next on stage: Anna Nixon
Anna Nixon, a 17-year old student at Westview Highschool in Portland, was an amazing surprise among the speakers. She is amazing! The way she speaks but most of all her maturity. Where to start… Anna has many years of experience in robotics as a Co-Captain and Software Lead of Westview High School Robotics team. Her passion for science, the experience of her grandmother’s limited access to education and her willingness to see more girls in the tech field lead her to co-found STEM4Girls in 2015. STEM4Girls is a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring girls to pursue STEM. Watch out for Anna as she received many high-class invitations during the MQ! Summit.
It was then time for the Audi employees in charge of workshop to pitch their topic in order to motivate the attendees to join them on day 2! Although most of them were speaking in front of such a public for the first time, they were all very well prepared with top notch content and good pitches.
We are already living in a Sci-Fi-world
To break up the pitches, some more guest speakers were inspiring the crowd. Mo Gawdat, Chief Business Officer of Google X, was all about opening our eyes to realize that we are actually already living in a sci-fi world and predicting that there are huge things coming soon: machine learning, robotics, and Mixed Reality (MR = AR + VR). Indeed, MR will make it possible to travel both in space and time while actually physically remaining at home.
Mo also commented on the hype of AI by showing that activities in this field actually already started in the 50’s with several “winters” (research/investment cuts) before now coming back at high speed due to the convergence of different technologies.
- Mo then described key principles about how Google X works on Moonshots:
- Commit to the problem. Not to the product. Not to the technology. Not to the legacy
- Commit to radical innovation
- How you would build it when everything is possible?
- Reject any optimization of x%. Aim for 10x!
- How would you build the product in the 21st century assuming zero legacy?
Mo closed his speech insisting on the fact that no matter the state of the technology, innovators must travel to have these unplanned encounters which are the source for disruptions. Just like artists.
Carlo Ratti, Director of the Sustainable City Lab at MIT, had the task to close day one. The motivation of the City Lab is based on the 2-50-75-80 numbers for cities: 2% of the Earth surface area, 50% of the global population, 75% of the energy consumption, and 80% of the CO2 emissions.
He gave an insight view on MIT’s activities in the field of object tracking and connectivity. Carlo’s wish would be to have the same level of tracking precision in the removable chain than we currently have in the supply chain.
Ultimately, in a world of autonomous connected cars, traffic lights will become obsolete. To illustrate that point, Carlo quoted Antonio Martino (Italian former Minister of Foreign Affairs In 1994 and former Minister of Defense from 2001 to 2006):
In Milan, traffic lights are instructions. In Rome, they are suggestions. In Naples, they are Christmas decorations.
After such a long day, it was time for food and celebration!
Day 2: MQ! Innovation Summit
The second and last day of the MQ! Innovation Summit started with the inspiring talk of Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia. It was about communities working together for improved knowledge as well as global knowledge accessibility through internet.
In an initiative to fight for evidence-based journalism and against fake news, James Wales also introduced his latest project: WikiTribune.
After listening, it was now time to participate to the workshops: a great opportunity to dive deeper into certain topics and connect with new people.
- How valuable is a date?
- How can we bring our ideas to life at the example of shared mobility
- How does smart data make my day?
Great participants and valuable input for Audi – people paid to attend and give that level of quality input to Audi, very clever from the firm with the rings!
Exactly on time, the participants gathered in the central arena to enjoy two very inspiring speeches.
There are more people with internet access then people with access to proper toilets
The speaker Fatima Bhutto is from Pakistan and her family had 3 Prime Ministers. At the age of fifteen, Fatima published a collection of poems, Whispers of the Desert. Fatima wrote additional books, works as a journalist with articles in Jang, Guardian, Daily Beast and more.
Fatima took the topic of mobility right at the point where Anna Nixon brought us: the difference in opportunities for women to move freely in many regions of the world. Although not denying some positive effects of the broad access to internet – with great examples of global companies being started from very remote areas in poor countries – Fatima shared about big issues which are still not solved nowadays such as access to proper toilets (less people have access to them than to the internet! – it is an issue tackled by the “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” initiated by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), but also hunger. I think it was a great idea that she motivated the public to immediately download the “Share The Meal” app. In fact, it enables to donate 0.40€ very easily to the UN to cover the food needs for one kid for one full day.
Fatima is very skeptical toward so-called social platforms. She belongs to the people who are very mobile to be both physically and mentally present where they can make an impact: either by helping or educating in diverse forms.
The last guest speaker looked at mobility from a time perspective. David Rowan, Editor of Wired UK, explained how time zones needed to be defined in order to enable the transportation (i.e. trains) timetables. Ever since then, humans are developing technologies to make things going faster and faster. David, although being the Editor of a tech magazine, looks at this development with great skepticism. Mainly because he doesn’t see many positive consequences from the time people are gaining through being faster at many things. Most of the people tend to spend more time on recreative activities (social platforms, broadcasting platforms…) with low added-value for their environment.
David spoke about the importance of stopping and reflecting at times. He suggests enjoying the pleasure of the moment.
Last but not least, Volker Kaese, Head of Innovation Management at Audi AG, wrapped up the MQ! Innovation Summit. His message to the participants: stop thinking, start DOing!
Pour une première, c’est une réussite!
For a first edition, the MQ ! Innovation Summit was certainly a huge success. The location, the speakers and the participants were all on a premium level. Chapeau to the organization team lead by Rainer Denninger!
I am definitely looking forward to the next MQ! edition for further input and discussions. And of course, to eventually define a formula to measure mobility!