LA CoMotion is the Future of How We Get Around

LA CoMotion 2018 entrance day

LA CoMotion was a multi-day event in the downtown Los Angeles Arts District. The overarching theme of the event is mobility and making it easier and more affordable for people to access. The majority of solutions involve batteries and charging concepts. However, some other aspects of mobility were shown. Examples included a Formula E race car, underground waste management systems, and software that will enable vehicles to communicate with “smart city” grids and other vehicles on the road. LA CoMotion brought together the leaders in the mobility space to share ideas and see what others are developing around movement.

Concept of Shared Mobility

Shared mobility is a topic that is heard often and in great detail at LA CoMotion. And, it means different things to different groups of people. Some view this as an Uber or Lyft solution while others view this as vehicles that are not owned at all. This no vehicle ownership concept is shared, on-demand vehicles that people can “order” as needed. There certainly was a wide spectrum of ideas around mobility presented at LA CoMotion.

The concept of a “sharing society” goes back to the earliest of times with clothes, tools, monies, etc. being shared among family members and close knit groups. A more modern concept of shared mobility is public transportation – buses, light rail, subways, and trains. Sharing is about convenience, cost, and re-purposing, so shared mobility is not really a foreign concept coming from the historical sharing society perspective. However, LA CoMotion wasn’t just about high level mobility options. There were some displays that showed what the future looks like right now!

Exciting Mobility Vendors

ABB Formula E, the global, all electric, FIA sanctioned, open wheel racing series was represented at LA CoMotion. Dragon racing had a Formula E season 3 livery on-site at the event in the Arts District downtown Los Angeles. Formula E and all the teams involved are pushing battery technology and electric power unit development to the max racing in this world class series.

Dragon racing Formula E race car

Not only are electric power units being developed for the racing world, but they are also being integrated into recreational life. Bosch is involved with lots of different facets of industry. So, it’s no surprise to see Bosch working with Raleigh, an industry leading bicycle manufacturer, to produce high-performance, electric powered mountain bikes. And, there is even an electric mountain bike race in Monterey, California at the Sea Otter Classic. Spencer Powlison of Velo News writes an account of his experience at the e-MTB race.

Bosch electric mountain bikes

Electric bicycles were introduced to many attendees of the show this year. However, a speaker on one of the mobility panels mentioned that last year no electric scooter manufacturers were represented at LA CoMotion. In contrast, this year that is almost all the vendor booths that could be seen at the LACOMO18. Lime and Bird were two big scooter brands that were offering information and test rides.

Lime Scooters LA CoMotion 2018 Bird Scooters LA CoMotion 2018

Secondary Vendors Leading Mobility Innovation

It wasn’t just all about vehicles and hardware of the future at LA CoMotion. There was a company that focused on developing the software that would enable vehicles to communicate. Autonomy, a company based in the the United States and Romania, is focused on secure vehicle-to-vehicle communication as well as connecting with “smart cities” and smartphone apps. Smart cities incorporate things like traffic signal sensors along with road and lighting sensors. To quote their promotional material… “We are creating the blockchain network where self-driving cars can communicate with each other, with the road infrastructure and with your smartphone apps.”

Autonomy company

Also, mobility can include the things that get in the way of vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Items like trash cans, dumpsters, and refuse collection vessels can clog up thoroughfares and prevent the efficient flow of traffic. Underground Refuse Systems has adopted trash management techniques long used in European cities. They use receptacles buried underground and specially modified trash collection vehicles to help lessen the eyesore of trash bins. This subsequently secures the receptacles from pilfering and speeds up collection times of trash routes. The receptacles are also “smart” and can let workers know when it is time to empty or if there is a problem with the trash receptacle. Future mobility solutions will look at concepts other than vehicles.

Underground Refuse Systems LA CoMotion 2018Future of Mobility is Electricity

Modern mobility will be driven by electric power units. This will be seen in public transport, cars and trucks, along with personal transportation modes like bicycles and scooters. These innovations will soon be seen in every day commutes as vehicle batteries and components evolve through things like Formula E and electric rally cars.

There was a long row of mobility vendors and sponsors at LA CoMotion 2018. Looking over the vendors at the conference, it certainly looks like electric scooters, bicycles, and skateboards will be in the forefront of shared mobility. As mobility options are explored and efforts like Formula E are pursued, a world of innovative options will be available. And, with incorporating ideas of efficient refuse management and seamless communication between moving objects, it will be amazing to see how future concepts will impact future mobility.

LA CoMotion entrance night

Formula E Season 3 Wrap Up

Formula E season three was amaze-balls! This season will go down in history as the pivotal season for the budding motorsport series. It was an eventful season for me with the NYCePrix and being a Super Fan. Here are some other reasons why too!

The ePrix Locations!

The races rival no other series in where they are located. The majority of the races take place on public streets in the heart of metropolitan areas. Two of the best examples of Formula E street courses in the middle of major cities are the New York ePrix and the Montreal ePrix.

This was the first season that these iconic cities were on the calendar, but they once again showed that Formula E can get races into places where other series like Formula 1 and NASCAR and WEC could not even dream of going. Having races in the urban areas really helps to bring the event to the people.

The Racing Action!

This season saw a new FE World Champion with Lucas Di Grassi of ABT Schaeffler Audi Formula E team. He narrowly beat out 2-time FE World Champion Sebastian Buemi of Renault e.Dams Formula E team in the last race of the double header weekend in Montreal. All season long there was wheel to wheel racing with actual passes and a few dramatic crashes (everything turned out ok with drivers). One of the best examples is Di Grassi coming from last place in Mexico City to win the race. Not to mention the massive attrition of cars at the Paris ePrix. Here’s some more great crashes and overtakes from Formula E season 3.

The eRaces!

eSports are on the verge of blowing up as broadcasters like Twitch pop up and major brands begin to get involved with reaching the next generation racer and racing fan. Formula E has done a brilliant job of incorporating the next generation of racing. Beginning at Long Beach season 2, powerful racing simulators were set up in the eVillage. Fans got the opportunity to “run the track” in a sim of the course for that race weekend. Then the gaming got even better and an e-race was put together at CES in Las Vegas in January. There, in Vegas, actual Formula E drivers (Rosenquist, Bird, Di Grassi, etc.) raced against the best-of-the-best top 10 racing sim drivers. The sim drivers went through an esport racing competition to narrow the crowd of entries and the 10 finalist got the opportunity to compete in the VISA Vegas eRace. Bono Huis, an elite sim racer, won the overall race with Felix Rosenqvist, an actual (irl) Formula E driver (Mahindra Racing), finishing a close second. Then, the remainder of the season, sim racing was incorporated into each race eVillage on the schedule. And, as a bonus, Formula E partnered with Real Racing 3 to bring in game app coverage of aspects of the FE race weekend. An added bonus was that fans were able to run FE cars on some street courses via the game. This is one of my personal “love” aspects of this season.

Introduction of the Super Fan!

Formula E Super Fan Stephen Harvey

This is an amazing fan experience introduced at the Berlin ePrix double header weekend. The new Super Fan (hopefully) tradition was continued at the NYCePrix. One fan was chosen at each race event and given the VIP Formula E behind the scenes treatment. With the crescendo fan moment being on the podium and giving away a trophy to one of the top 3 finishers. This immersion in the Formula E culture is great for making fans feel a part of the event, and feel like the racing stars we follow. I was fortunate enough to be chosen as the New York City ePrix Super fan and it will certainly go down as a once in a life time experience for me.

Innovation Around Sustainable Mobility!

Every season the battery technology involved with the cars in improved. The race distances the cars can go have increased. Currently, drivers change cars mid-race because of battery power. However, soon that need will be eliminated and no car change will be required. This is not to mention the fuel that runs the generators that charge all the Formula E car batteries is glycerin. That is a bio-fuel that can actually be consumed by humans.

I got a chance to taste it. My impression was that it is similar in consistency and taste to Karo syrup. Then there is Michelin. The Michelin tires that are on every FE race car are 18 inch, grooved tires similar to what is seen on an average road car. Michelin claims that innovations developed at the beginning of the FE season are likely to be implemented in street tire production by the end of the FE season. There are lots of innovations in Formula E that directly transfer and benefit people in the real world.

Formula E will look back and say that season 3 was the pivotal time for the series. Major manufacturers have jumped on board along with innovative and awe inspiring race experiences. Constant innovation in race technology with batteries and tires coupled with excellent fan experiences like the Super Fan are sure to bring longevity to this budding series. Look for more amazing things to come from Formula E in season 4!

As always, please leave any thoughts or input regarding this article in the COMMENTS section below. Thoughtful and intelligent commentary is always appreciated.

Formula E is Coming to Long Beach California in April 2015

Formula E in Long Beach, Ca

Racing in Long Beach Ca

Formula E Long Beach Ca 2015

The FIA announced a new race series, Formula E, and it’s coming to Long Beach, California the first week of April 2015. But, the most exciting part is that the race cars in the series will have a totally electric power plant.

Hybrid power plant technology crept into premier racing with The 24 Hours of LeMans and Audi. We’re now seeing the push for not just hybrid engines, but ALL electric powered vehicles in our everyday lives. The FIA has addressed this 1st world push for electric vehicles by adding a series to the fold that has no fossil-fueled engines powering cars down a track. Welcome to the electric generation of motorsport!

The all electric cars of the Formula E race series will have similar stats to their older siblings of Formula 1. The race cars brag of 0 – 60 mph times being comparable to F1 cars. Formula E cars will be coming in at around 3 seconds, just slightly slower than F1 cars. And like F1, will have races staged all over the world, giving the new race series a very global air about it. Organizers are hopeful that people viewing races held all over the world will also see electric powered vehicles in a more glamorous light and desire to own one themselves. Reinforcing the age old auto world adage of “race ’em on Sunday and sell ’em on Monday.”

In my opinion, the task of selling electric vehicles to the masses would become WAY easier if car designers would just make electric powered vehicles look sexy (i.e. Tesla, Fiskers, BMW i8…not Prius, Leaf or Volt). Hopefully Formula E can show the general public that electric cars can be sexy, glamorous and HOT.

Also, Formula E is incorporating social media into the engagement strategy to get a younger crowd involved. Similar to U.S. Indy Cars, Formula E drivers will have 2 power boosts available to help in critical passing situations. As an added bonus, and as a way to encourage fan participation from the target car buying audience (urban 20- and 30- year old types), fans can use Twitter to tweet out the handle of their favorite driver. The driver with the most tweets mentioning them will get an additional power boost on the very last lap of the race. Hopefully this will get fans interacting on Twitter and make the last lap of the race super exciting. We’ll see, but I am getting psyched for the social media fun.

Cars in this new racing championship are fueled by electricity—and tweets

So, to recap… Formula E is a new FIA race series that uses race cars that are totally powered by electric power plants. Next, Long Beach, CA is slated as the 7th round of the series, just two weeks before the iconic IndyCar race on the streets around Shoreline Village in Long Beach. The cars will be comparable to Formula 1 liveries in style, size, handling, and speeds…claiming 0-60mph times around 3 seconds. And, to add another element of excitement, Twitter will be used so fans can give drivers an extra boost of power on the last lap of the race. This aspect should encourage younger fans to participate. All these items pretty much assure me that Formula E will be exciting, glamorous and do a great job of promoting electric vehicles.

Get out and enjoy one of the races this year. Check out the official Formula E website for calendar details.

[Tweet “@FIAFormulaE coming to Long Beach April 2015 – “]

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