Day two at CES was all about the cars—self-driving cars—a.k.a. Autonomous Vehicles (AV). AVs will change transportation as we know it by creating a different consumer experience and new business models.

Safer cars and fewer accidents are the first in a line of benefits. Sending my car to pick up my kids at school will be necessary after the first time I do it. AVs have the potential to bring a better way of owning cars, easier ways to rent, and crowdsourced carpools and busses.

After talking to some friends in the industry, I am convinced that we’ll see hundreds of thousands of cars in the street by 2020. My youngest kid won’t need a driver’s license.

I have seen that Nvidia and Audi are partnering to bring a driverless car to market. There is a new use for GPUs after computer games and smartphone displays. Also at CES, Microsoft announced its Connected Vehicle vision, which supports the consumer’s desire to save time, get more done and stay connected.

But guess what, Itron can have a play in the space. Enter: Itron Idea Labs. Stay tuned for Itron idea Labs projects in 2017 that will include AVs in the connected world (i.e., a dedicated HOV lane, perhaps a connection to traffic lights, awareness of street conditions, temperature, etc.). This means that there is a tight connection between AVs and Smart Cities. As we build more OpenWay IoT infrastructure in cities and we connect more sensors to the network, we’ll have the ability to connect AVs to the environment through our network.

I can’t predict how many AVs will ship in 2020, but at least one to my house!

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Roberto Aiello
Managing Director, Itron Idea Labs - Itron Idea Labs
Dr. Roberto Aiello is the managing director of the Itron Idea Labs and responsible for new business innovation at Itron, including Internet of Things.

His previous experience includes managing wireless research at Interval Research, Paul Allen's technology incubator and technology transfer at Disney Research. He is an advisor to Google Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) and is a Lean Startup expert who serves as a mentor at the Cleantech Open and Startup Weekend.

Dr. Aiello also founded two venture-funded, wireless semiconductor companies and one web/mobile startup. Dr. Aiello worked as a physicist at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and Superconducting Super Collider.