Today I attended the morning session keynotes for API Days (#ApiDaysSF) here in San Francisco. The theme of the conference was Disrupting the Car Industry and Driver Experience with APIs. Of the 25 speakers, I attended the keynotes from Larry Burns, Kin Lane, Sid Bhatia, and Nick Muerdter.

This was a very small conference, but all the attendees were very passionate about this topic, and to my surprise also very passionate about emerging business models that pertain to the auto industry. Below are my notes from each speaker:

Larry Burns

Advisor for Google Self-Driving Cars and Former VP of R&D at GM

  • Topic: Is the auto industry today evolutionary or transformational?
  • History of the automobile: 100+ years making automobiles in the US; innovating features introduced every decade; the electric is born.
  • The automobile has been the same for the last 100+ years. Very slow to change. We are on the edge of a radical transformation.
  • Stats: 1 billion automobiles world wide; 1.2M fatalities
  • Old DNA: The industry is slow to change; built into the DNA via regulations.
  • New DNA: Connected, Electric, Shared, Driverless, Tailored (speed/weight/distance); Lower costs and better mobility experience.
  • [VIDEO] Google’s Driverless Car: A First Drive
  • Analyzed Ann Arbor, MI and NYC on how to improve the overall customer experience. They concluded they could reduce cost of a trip from $7/trip to $1/trip, as well as the experience.
  • Today we sell vehicles, gas, insurance. Tomorrow we sell miles, experience, time savings
  • Predicts we’ll have a driverless automobile by 2017 via Google.
  • Ultimate vision is to have a complete integrated mobility system for a better customer experience.

Kin Lane

Thought Leader and President of API Evangelist

  • Topic: The technology, business and policies of APIs.
  • Why do we need a car? We have taxis, Uber, rental cars, car shares, trains, public transit, motorized suit cases.
  • Teenagers have a new perspective on automobile ownership. They simply don’t care about automobile ownership anymore.
  • Telecommuting has become much more prevalent than 10 years ago.
  • To be an entrepreneur in this new industry that is still heavily regulated for safety reasons, you need to understand what the consumer obstacles are.
  • These new opportunity will create a huge opportunity for big data.
  • Politics of APIs: We need more collaboration and transparency for consumers and developers. Build trust between all parties [value chain]. Determine ownership. Above all, respect privacy.
  • Complete presentation is available on GitHub.

Nick Muerdter

Application Engineer for the US Department of Energy

  • Topic: The public API that he builds for the US Department of Energy for developers to use to help evolve [disrupt] the auto industry.
  • The US spends $1B to import oil.
  • US Department of Energy wants to replace, reduce, and ultimately eliminate fossil fuels; reduction of fuels.
  • APIs available to developers from the US Department of Energy are: finding alternate fuel stations.
  • The US Department of Energy wants to increase the data to the ecosystem. Expose all their data via public APIs so that developer and ultimately the consumer can leverage their data in mobile apps and automobiles. It’s all about the drivers.
  • V2 of APIs: Electric fueling is different. Need real time information on stations in use, time left on charging stations, open stations, incentive laws, cost calculator, light and heavy duty vehicles, fuel reduction planning tools.

Sid Bhatia

Program Directory, API Economy for IBM

  • Topic: Diving real value with APIs and connected cars.
  • 20% of cars are expected to be completely connected by 2020.
  • Lots of data in connected cars. In flight data response. Different forms of data; 80% is unstructured. Must have trustworthy data in order to make decisions.
  • API usage patterns: Monetize, Optimize, Extend, Control
  • API usage: Roadside assistance, concierge, 3rd party API apps, remote services (find, unlock), predictive maintenance, condition awareness, vehicle to anything, insurance premiums, fuel efficiency, pay per drive, geofencing, automated pick up & drop off.
  • Peugeot Use Case: Streaming analytics; APIs for 3rd parties.
  • Car2Go: Keyless car access apps
  • Sprint: Sprint Velocity for connected cars
  • The future of the connected cars: easy to use instrument vehicles, internet-scale, locations awareness, real-time analytics, monetizing information via APIs.
  • Presentation use cases reminded me of a NPR Planet Money podcast on UPS.

Panel Discussion w/ Speakers

  • The SW, HW and Car companies are integrating. We’re sorting out the players today. Much like 100 years ago when cars came out; lots of players at first before consolidation happens.
  • This is an emerging industry. We are figuring out our virtual and physical worlds. Worlds are starting to collide. Lots of overlaps.
  • Find opportunities using negative scenarios in order to make change happen. Must be incremental. E.g. Parking is a negative; people working to make it better through apps.
  • APIs are becoming much more noticeable by business people as compared to a few years ago. Automobile executives are looking at APIs as product and/or service to improve the driving experience for their customers (e.g. OnStar, Tesla). They look at it as an investment to be competitive in the future.
  • Tesla is open sourcing ALL their patents! Read their blog post: All Our Patent Are Belong To You
  • Middleware-as-an-OS.
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