At a recent auto symposium held at the Blackhawk Automotive Museum, auto journalists and enthusiasts learned about innovations in the auto industry, due to Silicon Valley. We got to hear about latest technologies, view demo cars with futuristic advances, and to admire a collection of vintage automobiles.
At the entrance to the event a collection of demo cars displayed various innovations. These included a fully automated Volkswagen Touareg, winner of 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge; a Volkswagen Passat TDI that runs on algal-based biofuel; a 2013 Mercedes SLK demonstrating Digital DriveStyle Application; and a Ram with UConnect system, named the 2012 Technology of the Year by AOL Autos. It was certain to be an educational day.
Inside the museum were two floors of spectacular vintage cars in mint condition, an impressive sight. The collection includes 90 coachbuilt cars on loan from a variety of owners, some of which participated in the famed Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance.
Later, attendees listened to an informative panel discussion moderated by Wired Magazine Damon Lavrinc, with Catherine Lovazzano, Chrysler/Fiat, Dan Phillips, Solazyme, and Dr. Kai Mos, Mercedes-Benz. We heard about collaborations with Silicon Valley and automobile manufacturers. Solazyme, a Bay Area company has developed a biotechnology based fuel, an algae biodiesel. Perhaps this sounds futuristic but Volkswagen has been testing these fuels in their cars recently, one of which was on display.
Discussions also encompassed technology interfaces and adapting to the changing way people use their cars. Futurist Lovazzano, spends time studying human interactions with their environment to bring findings to Chrysler/Fiat that may find their way into cars of the future.
Most would agree that while automobiles provide basic transportation they can be so much more, as evidenced by the shiny collection of vintage autos all around. Driving is a visceral experience and for those that can afford to indulge their passions, there are countless options. For the rest of us, we can enjoy the advances in fuel efficiency, fuel choices and better technology interfaces.
Event was sponsored by Western Automotive Journalists and SAE International and held at Blackhawk Automotive Museum. The event is held annually at different venues around the Bay Area. The Blackhawk Automotive Museum is open to the public and hosts exhibits and special events for auto enthusiasts.
©Karla Erovick 2013 article, photos
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