TEDx Battenkill 2015 Speaker: Meet Alex Roy – The Future of Autonomous Driving


Alex Roy has driven farther and faster – on public roads – than almost anyone alive. With a perfect safety record across countless events – legal and illegal – on four continents, Roy is best known as the first person in 23 years to break the 1983 U.S. Express cross-country driving record – immortalized in “Cannonball Run” – going from NY to LA in 31 hours and 4 minutes. Roy is also author of “The Driver” and Executive Producer of “32 Hours, 7 Minutes”, which deconstruct the mythology of the Cannonball Run and document the true history of underground endurance racing.

Roy set the 31:04 record via a quantitative approach, combining the latest GPS, night vision and communications technologies with the fuel economy, logistical and driving strategies of professional endurance racing.

Roy is currently President of Geotegic – an automotive events company – and Europe By Car, a European car rental wholesaler. Roy is also a columnist for Jalopnik and co-host of /DRIVE. He has spoken at MIT, Stanford, Google & the FBI, and was kicked off of Letterman for asking Dave about his speeding tickets. Roy’s one true passion is The Moth, of which he was Chairman when its office was in his living room back in 2002…but that’s a story best told from the back of an autonomous car.

TEDxBattenkill 2015 Talk Summary on the Extinction of the Human Driver
On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero… Alex’s Talk will focus on the extinction of the “human driver” and the car now being chased by the likes of Google, Mercedes and certainly others.

Whatever one’s views on Autonomous Driving (AD), two facts are indisputable. AD will be 1) safer, and 2) more convenient than Human Driving (HD). We can debate the definitions of safety and convenience, but not their merits. This debate will ultimately be overtaken and won by market forces driven by demand for these, whatever the definition, once costs have come down. Following the logical tree, AD, on public roads, as the dominant mode of transportation, is inevitable.

In other words, on a long enough timeline, the survival rate of human-operated transportation culture drops to zero.

There is no meaningful debate to be had over the length of the timeline, because even if enthusiasts don’t believe AD is inevitable, auto manufacturers and the tech industry do. The center of investment gravity has already coalesced around this belief. Technologies developed in parallel have begun to converge. From the automotive side, the individual components of AD – automatic braking, distance-sensing cruise control and steering – have begun trickling down product ranges. From the tech side, navigation systems incorporating real-time, organically-generated traffic data are improving at an accelerating rate, and platforms such as Uber are – local political hurdles notwithstanding – becoming increasingly ubiquitous. Where Uber stalls, a competitor will rise. You think nature always finds a way? So does business.

However far off, the ultimate convergence of these interests represents what I call “The Autonomotive Singularity.” It will occur the day after the last person gets in a car and leaves his or her driveway, having relinquished all input other than destination.

Technologically, this is feasible in our lifetimes. Culturally, politically, socially…it may never be.

I’d say “never” will last about 100 years.

But let’s look at the opposing forces, flying the banner of what I call The Automotive Singularity…

Is Elon Musk Right? Will Autonomous Cars Will Make Driving Obsolete? Will Human-operated vehicles go the way of the horse? The poster child of road Luddites weighs his faith in technology against his passion for driving, and deconstructs the most disruptive new technology since the rise of the internet.

Get ready for the future of driving. Join us and Alex Roy on Oct 3, 2015 here.



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