Approximately 300 representatives from industry and academia had gathered when Sinisa Krajnovic, Head of the Transport Area of Advance, entered the stage to welcome all.
“We always try to choose a theme of current interest for our Initiative seminars. Right now, we are discussing automation and mobility, but also shared economy”, he said.
New technology makes it possible to label goods, in order to keep track not only on its location, but also the surrounding’s temperature and humidity. Trucks are also able to transfer data, which shows the vehicles current status. So:
“The entire traffic system is becoming more and more automated. Transport is no longer just about having enough buses in the city network, but about what apps we use.”
Impossible to foresee the future
Robin Teigland, Professor in Management of Digitalisation, gave the Key note lecture and talked about how society and economy is changing. She quoted Bill Gates:
“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. So how will we be able to work, when we don’t even know what we don’t know?”
One way to view market demands, is to think about what we need and answer the question with a verb instead of a noun, Robin Teigland said. To illustrate, she showed a picture of a woman waving at a taxi.
“Think about what she wants to do, instead of what she wants to have! Where does she want to go? And why? View technology as a means, not as an answer.”
Topics varied throughout the day
Henrik Sahlin, from Ericsson, talked about autonomous cars, the technology needed and challenges to solve. The car must be able to “talk” to other cars, with infrastructure, pedestrians and networks. What happens if the car loose internet connection? Do we need to wait for 5G in order for this to work?
Chalmers Professor Maria Ljunggren Söderman gave an insight into necessary metals for the automotive industry – 25 different ones – which are not currently being recycled. MariAnne Karlsson, also a Professor from Chalmers, talked about MaaS; Mobility as a Service.
“We see a paradigm shift coming. In the future, actors will present their offers together. And this can make people change their behavior, for example make them not buy a car”, she said, and was replaced on stage by Hans Arby, whose company Ubigo offers exactly this kind of service.
During the afternoon, Érika Martin's Silva Ramos from Gothenburg University spoke about user preferences, Klas Hedvall from Volvo GTT talked about vehicle maintenance in the connected future, and Jonas Flodén from Gothenburg University about block-chain.
Last on stage, before the closing panel discussion, was Ikea’s Stefan Holmberg, who presented the company’s challenges in a new market.
“We started at a time when people had more time than money. Today it’s the other way around; people have money, but not time. Our department stores provide inspiration, but most visitors immediately start looking for the shortcuts. They do not have the time and desire to walk around the store for several hours.”
Important to ensure future competences
The panel discussed how to ensure the competence needs in the future. Industry needs are difficult to foresee, which means that competences of the students who are currently being educated is already in demand. This is just one of several factors that will make closer cooperation between academia and industry increasingly important in the future.
Head of Area of Advance Sinisa Krajnovic ended the day with a story about his friend, retired truck driver Peter. Peter worked alone and was often away on long tours. He had a difficult time finding a replacement if he fell ill, and sometimes he had to wait several days for spare parts on site in Europe. Over the years, he lost a lot of time that could have been spent with his family. But future truck drivers will work differently, Krajnovic said:
“The trucks will be in a plutoon, and the driver in the first truck will be the only one actually driving. The others can spend the time on other things, like skype calls to the family. Or they can even sit at home and drive their trucks remotely.”
The participants seemed content as they left Chalmers’ conference hall Runan. Next year, it is time again for an Initiative seminar. Welcome back!
Text and photos: Mia Malmstedt