a16z Panel: A Look Inside the Autonomy Ecosystem

Andreessen Horowitz recently hosted a panel discussion on the Autonomy Ecosystem, moderated by Frank Chen, Partner.

The panelists were James Wu, CEO, DeepMap; Raj Kapoor, Chief Strategy Officer, Lyft; and Shaun Stewart, Director, Waymo.

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Panel discussion on the Autonomy Ecosystem at Andreessen Horowitz in April 2018

The lively discussion focused on the ecosystem that grows up around “complex technologies like self-driving cars to make them work, from mapping to user interfaces to data to infrastructure.”

It opened with an industry overview by Frank, highlighting points from his excellent series of presentations on the Autonomy Ecosystem (available here).

Frank believes we are at the beginning of a profound shift that could happen “a lot faster than any of us are expecting, from owning and operating our own gas-burning vehicles to a world in which we are driven around in an electric vehicles by a fleet. When that happens, profound changes to the automotive value chain will occur.”

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HD mapping slide from the Autonomy Ecosystem: The Value Chain. Source: Frank Chen, Andreessen Horowitz

The panel topics were wide-ranging, covering everything from economics and regulation to safety and future form factors.

On regulation, James Wu of DeepMap noted that government involvement can be positive. “I don’t want the government to be a blocker,” he said, but government can help by “carving out a region of the city or certain lanes labeled as self-driving lanes, with some kind of boundary where you can deploy self-driving technology and learn from it.”

James added that regulation can help improve safety and push the industry forward. “That means that for any kind of failure cases, the data of a self-driving vehicle should be shared to help make better regulations and provide guidance. This happens in the aviation industry and I believe it will be beneficial to the self-driving industry as well.”

DeepMap provides HD mapping and localization solutions critical for autonomous vehicles.

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