One interesting question for the future of automotive cyber-security is in over the air (OTA) updates. OTA updates are compelling because when a bug is found, the company can push a software update and fix the issue immediately. Tesla has used OTA fixes as a competitive advantage, as the company was able to fix a bug discovered by white-hat security researchers to ensure the safety of the vehicles (http://fortune.com/2016/09/20/tesla-security-bug-hack/). On the other hand, in the case of the Jeep Cherokee hack, the fix must be implemented via USB at the dealership (https://www.wired.com/2015/07/hackers-remotely-kill-jeep-highway/). If you’re interested more in automotive cybersecurity technology, check out Karamba Security (https://karambasecurity.com/) and Argus Security (https://argus-sec.com/)!
Fitting with Ambarella’s strategy to extend into the automotive markets, the company acquired VisLab in June 2015 (http://investor.ambarella.com/releasedetail.cfm?releaseid=920364). Looking back on it, that seems like a really sharp move given the ability to integrate automotive computer vision perception into drone applications and also the emergence of the automotive technology market. I like where Ambarella is going but given the larger players entering the automotive and drone spaces, the company will likely have to accelerate its R&D efforts to continue to compete.
Really interesting! Traffic is often a huge pressing concern for cities, so I am not surprised that they were comfortable pushing the limits of the intended boundaries of the system. In Massachusetts they are actively looking for private sector partners to supply traffic data. For example, in June 2016 the Massachusetts Department of Transportation announced a partnership with Waze, using anonymized travel information to better inform the public. In this context we can all get behind the fact that we hate traffic and it seems like a great use. I wonder if Waze had to update their terms of service to reflect that user data was going to be shared directly with the government?
You are right about political concerns in relation to trade policy — Flexport CEO Ryan Petersen actually spoke out about this very issue. At a tech conference he noted that the company might have had second thoughts about taking money from Founders Fund and Peter Thiel after Thiel came out in support of Trump leading into the election. Petersen explained that a tariff would be “disastrous” for Flexport’s business. https://techcrunch.com/2016/06/28/flexport-peter-thiel/
I am a big fan of Niantic because I think Niantic has the potential to emerge as the primary AR location-based platform, layering on novel experiences that go far beyond just Pokemon. One thing that I found interesting about the rise of Pokemon Go was that it took a while for the market to actually realize that Nintendo would only get a portion of the earnings from the game. It was a fascinating situation where the market was pricing the company as if it had a breakout hit on its hands, even though it was publicly acknowledged that Nintendo had just invested in Niantic and would take a cut of the earnings. Eventually the market realized the structure of the partnership, and the stock price plummeted as a result! https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jul/25/pokemon-go-nintendo-shares-tokyo-stock-exchange-niantic
The rise of e-commerce is going to put additional pressure on Royal Mail to deliver quality service without sacrificing environmental sustainability. In these circumstances the efficiency of delivery routing can play a significant role in reducing emissions. Royal Mail’s weather concerns represent an interesting conundrum, as it is precisely when weather disruptions hit an area that the ability to deliver mail, supplies, and aid becomes of paramount importance! Perhaps advanced delivery technologies such as aerial drones (http://www.flyzipline.com/) or self-driving delivery robots (https://www.starship.xyz/) will provide a pathway to more sustainable options even in the event of weather challenges.
This is really interesting and I actually had a friend start a business to tackle this very type of problem. He wanted to create an insurance product that would help cities and companies (ie. ski resorts) better protect themselves from financial risks associated with climate events. These type of products to exist in other markets (see: weather derivatives http://www.investopedia.com/articles/optioninvestor/05/052505.asp). One issue with these type of products is that municipal budgeting does not align with how these insurance contracts are structured. Also, it is very difficult to appropriately calibrate the contracts based on the variability of the weather and the long time horizon that you would require to truly smooth out weather variability. Do you think a weather insurance scheme could ever work for cities?
I agree that the regulatory push on renewable energy is a major factor for Volkswagen moving forward, and this especially true because they are headquartered in Germany. I just read that the government had expressed an intention to ban all gasoline and diesel cars by 2030 (https://www.wired.com/2016/10/german-auto-industry-finally-maybe-done-gas/). Do you think this is a good move? On the one hand, it would force its historically strong automotive company to pivot to where the market is moving, yet on the other hand these regulatory pressures may pose challenges for the future of the German automotive businesses if they are not able to innovative in the electric vehicle market.
I am cautiously optimistic about some of these new meat replacement products. For example, Impossible Foods is leveraging an ingredient called heme to create a plant-based replacement for hamburgers (see: http://www.businessinsider.com/impossible-foods-burger-heme-secret-ingredient-2016-10). While I am hopeful about some of these products, I also would note how challenging it can be to build a sustainable supply chain. Startup Hampton Creek was launched with the intention to replace chicken eggs with a plant-based substitute, but when a research institute examined the sustainability of the company’s entire footprint, the company was disappointed to see a much more negative view of their sustainability than they had previously believed (see: https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-hampton-creek-just-mayo/).
As Tesla accelerates towards autonomous vehicles there will be interesting questions about the sustainability of low-cost vehicles roaming the streets. Robin Chase has written about this (see: Will a World of Driverless Cars Be Heaven or Hell http://www.citylab.com/commute/2014/04/will-world-driverless-cars-be-heaven-or-hell/8784/) by noting that our streets will become congested if we send out our vehicles all the time to run errands on our behalf. Even if these cars are electric vehicles, the demands on the power grid could be significant. How should we assess sustainability as autonomy begins to enter our city streets?