Building a Future Mobility Region | SXSW 2021

Building a Future Mobility Region | SXSW 2021

Show Video

Welcome to Building a Future Mobility Region, a South by Southwest panel presented by Michigan House. The future of mobility isn't being built by any one company or even industry. Instead, it's a massively collaborative effort that will touch a wide array of all of our lives. This panel will examine the holistic strategies and wide-ranging partnerships that Michigan is putting into place. It will also explore the outside-the-box thinking and unexpected conversations that have been part of this effort that will end up defining the region for decades to come.

One project among many that exemplifies the kind of ambition and forward-thinking needed for this endeavor is Ford's Michigan Central Station mobility innovation district. Here's a quick look at that project before we kick off the panel. In order to know the bones of a city, you have to know every brick of its story, the central pulse that connects a community. You have to look up toward this universal ceiling through the wondrous eyes of a child.

Detroit is a city of innovators who show the world how to put large dreams on wheels, traveling up South people with faith in their stride, pride in the tip of a hat, the ones who hurdled over hardship and had the heart to still lead. Sometimes you must move with great intention, with force, with tears, fiercely into the unknown in order to survive. Michigan Central Station is more than a stained glass memory of our mothers and fathers. It is the bustling new center of the future of global mobility, a destination spot for creatives, a meeting place for the most brilliant. What better place to revolutionize the core of Ford Motor Company than on top of our inspirational real world streets of possibility.

This can't be done alone. We need all of you to show up. Search for inspiration. It's under the hood, inside our chest. We are the bold ones ready to build the world we are moving into, not the one we've always known, unafraid to go back to our beginning in order to push triumphantly into the future. Imagine the body of our car as a body of a people painted with thousands of extraordinary colors, ideas fueling our machines that drop off the most important little people in the world to elementary school at 8:00 AM every morning.

We will never forget what our busy streets turned into. Bird songs drowning out the morning commute later to be filled up with the sound of resistance Our resilient bones an assembly line of interchangeable parts, a metropolis of ideas, our minds the workstations of the future right off Michigan Avenue. A place that remembers how we arrive will create the powerful roadmap to where we must go next. Welcome to the mobility capital of the world. Welcome home. We can't get there without you.

All right, well, good afternoon, everybody. My name is Trevor Pawl. I'm the chief mobility officer for the state of Michigan, and as part of that job, I'm setting up and leading the governor's new Office of Future Mobility and Electrification. Great to be here.

Hi everyone. I'm Carolina Pluszczynski. I'm leading the overall delivery of Michigan Central, which is a mobility innovation district in Corktown, Detroit's oldest neighborhood, for Ford Motor Company. Hi, I'm Heather Wilberger, Bedrock's first chief information officer, and in addition to running all of our IT and technology-focused initiatives, I'm responsible for overseeing our company mobility and transportation engagement.

Hi, I'm Komal Doshi. I'm the director of mobility programs at Ann Arbor Spark. My work involves supporting the growth and scaling of mobility startups and big companies in the Ann Arbor region, as well as strengthening the mobility ecosystem. Well, thank you all for being here today. Really appreciate it.

To start off, one thing that really stands out when we talk about Michigan's future mobility effort is that we're really doing it here in Michigan. The last five years have been filled with countless projects to build and test the technologies and systems that will create the future of mobility. As you guys think about sort of the last five years, what's a project that you've worked on that you think is especially indicative of the kind of thinking and cooperation that are gonna be necessary for this shared vision we have of future mobility? Trevor, why don't you lead us off again? Yeah, sure. So, a project for me that is just firing me up right now is that Michigan is building the road of the future. It is the Detroit to Ann Arbor self-driving vehicle corridor that is being co-developed with the state of Michigan, Michigan Department of Transportation, and Cavnue, a new entity started by Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, and there will be no other road in the world like this.

We're combining the latest in innovation as far as physical infrastructure, digital infrastructure, coordination infrastructure, and operational infrastructure work, or passenger experience, and it's gonna extend 40 miles across 40-ish communities. It's gonna create an environment to roll out autonomous technologies, driverless technologies, in a way that actually can impact folks. It's not behind a fence at a testing site.

It's gonna be leveraged for public transit. It's gonna be leveraged to help people get to work faster, to help speed up public transit routes, to begin to test some of this technology that is changing the world right here in Michigan, and then as it becomes more scalable, it can then impact other communities around the state, and eventually the country, and eventually the world. So, right now, we're in phase one, where we're looking at various options for roadway design, the business model for it, financing models, policy implications, community engagement. All of these these key things that are important to feasibility. We're trying to get down to the most minute detail with the hopes of eventually breaking ground and beginning to activate some of these new technologies.

That's great. Komal, why don't you follow up, since it's kind of in your neighborhood? Definitely. I'm very excited about this project, but I'll also highlight another project that we did with Ford, that was extremely interesting, was their city insights platform. So, we brought together various public sector agencies in the Ann Arbor region. So, that included our transit, the city, the University of Michigan, our Downtown Development Authority, Spark itself, and Ford Motor Company, and the desire was to look at could we pool the different data sets and look at that through an open data platform to generate insights, simulate the data to look at options of how this could be implemented, and then the extremely cool bit was that there was a 3D model of Ann Arbor on LED screens where this could be visualized as well.

So, the project had many interesting elements, but I think the ability for public and private sector to innovate together was definitely crucial to it, and the product that Ford has in market was the city Safety Insights tool, I think is indicative of what everyone's realized, that safety was a top priority for all these different agencies and seemed to unify that need. And so, I'm really excited that that tool is now scaling to other cities, and I recently saw that our friends and collaborators across the border in Windsor are deploying it. So, I'm pretty excited that that journey between Michigan and Windsor has been there.

Very cool. That leads us immediately to Carolina. We've mentioned Ford. So let's hear about I'm guessing you have a rather big project that you'd like to mention.

Yeah, of course. It has to be Michigan Central for me. And so, as I mentioned, right, we're creating a mobility innovation district in Corktown, and you know, the exciting part of that is that we envision this is where mobility innovators and disruptors from all over the world can come together and work differently, and collaborate openly around new mobility and transportation solutions, and be able to develop, and test, and scale those solutions in real world setting, and we're doing this in, as I mentioned, Corktown, which is Detroit's oldest neighborhood, and it's a very, very rich community, and so, we have the ability to listen and talk to the community members and really understand what problems that they're having and be able to try to address those. You know, urban problems, our transportation issues are really hard to solve, and we know we can't do it alone, and so this is why it's so important that we would be an open platform.

And so, Ford is envisioning that we would put some of our folks down there. So, we've committed to 5,000, 5,000 employees down there, and that would be half Ford, but then half of it would be from other companies, from startups and entrepreneurs and other companies. The exciting part of what Trevor said was the corridor. And so, I'm always gunning to say Michigan Central has to be one of the nodes on that corridor, because when I think about the ideas that can be born out of Michigan Central, the mobility solutions, and I think about the ability to have the opportunity to test on an AV corridor, you know, right outside our front doors on Michigan Avenue, that gives us this opportunity to be able to test and scale these solutions and different technologies in a real world setting, and new business models as well.

So, you know, for me it's Michigan Central, but the fact that there's this powerful corridor, you know, gonna be right outside our doors, together I think it's pretty powerful for Michigan. That's very cool, and that's why we're all here. Heather, so coming from a, you know, what's really a sort of commercial real estate company, what kind of projects have you guys worked on in the mobility sector, and how did you guys get brought into some things? Yeah, so, I would say that two of our most recent projects that jump to mind are our autonomous vehicle parking demonstration.

We partnered with Ford and Bosch at our Assembly parking deck out in Corktown, and our work with AUTOParkit, which was to install a fully autonomous underground parking structure at our Press/321 building. We had an amazing opportunity to partner with Ford and Bosch to showcase vehicles that were able to drive in, park themselves inside of our newly constructed garage, and the first U.S. infrastructure-based solution, really, for fully automated valet parking of its kind. This was demoed back in August, and we were really proud of the engagement that we had with both Bosch and Ford on this.

We partnered with AUTOParkit to develop the Midwest's first fully autonomous parking garage in the basement of our Press/321 building that we lovingly refer to as our robot parking garage. Both of these examples are critical for the state's mobility goals, and they demonstrate real world working examples of what can really be achieved when we start to look at how can we innovate in the space of real estate leveraging mobility technology and some of the great partners that we have here in the Midwest. The garage where we utilize AVP, the autonomous vehicle valet parking tech, quickly can be adapted to use in other existing parking garages. These sort of technologies, specifically this AVP tech, allows us to, hopefully, achieve about 20% more vehicles when compared to a traditional parking garage, which from a real estate play is really, really critical. Prior to COVID, as many of you know, the downtown core, specifically here in Detroit, we had a significant parking shortage.

So, we're always interested in looking at how we can leverage mobility technology to meet some of these real estate needs that we have. Thank you. So, I'm just gonna throw this question out to any of you. So, you've all been working on these very interesting and cool projects.

What are the kinds of things you're learning from them? Both on sort of, you know, specific things, specific projects, and maybe just, like, in a bigger picture and what they sort of mean for some of these future visions of mobility. Any wanna jump in on that? Or do I need to call on somebody? I can go. So, a lot of the work that I was doing before I joined Spark was around the focus on access and moving away from just mobility for the sake of movement, and it's heartening to say that as we're progressing, that thinking is in all of our endeavors now, that what does it mean to access different things.

And so, all the different solutions we are putting the customer front and center, we are trying to build solutions that meet more needs than just the ability to move. So, it is becoming about, you know, how are we getting to education, to health, to food. I think it's broadened our conversation around mobility. It has. COVID in itself has shown us that access has to be our ultimate goal, and technology can really help support that. And so, you know, be it the Zoom, the home delivery, you know, autonomous solutions that are bringing things to us, they all feed into this vision, but also comes with that vision the opportunity to think differently about how we're designing our neighborhoods.

You know, the 15-minute neighborhood, where walking and biking can get us everything is also coming to play. So, that seems... That shift, I think, is really exciting for me personally, that more and more, our solutions are trying to feed our thinking towards how can we improve access.

Yeah, go ahead. I might jump in as well and just say that I think, you know, we have... If I think about historically in partnering at Ford or innovation at Ford, it's been very insular, and I think that what we've learned is that we have to think about new partners that we can do this together with. If I think about during the pandemic, right, we partnered with 3M and GE to get medical supplies out to essential workers very quickly. So, we are working, starting to work differently, and I think that is what we're hoping for Michigan Central, is that, you know, if we bring together not just mobility, innovators, and disruptors, but we think about the adjacent industries, you know, around mobility and healthcare, mobility and agriculture, that there'll be these kind of serendipitous, we call them collisions, which is probably not smart for an automotive company, but we call them these collisions, where together we can kind of, you know, force each other to go faster, and think differently, and deliver solutions that really provide equitable outcomes.

Yeah, and to play off of that, I mean, we really at the state level embrace the systems level approach. I mean, to us, that's what's gonna create economic development and community development advantages. So, like, how people and goods move is not isolated to just one mode. So, simply being the best at driverless vehicles is, like, too narrow of a win to claim global leadership over all of mobility.

So, we've tried our best to embrace not just sort of the four foundational technologies, autonomous, connected, shared, and electric vehicle technologies, but also embrace the different industries that are converging in the space. You know, you look at the future of supply chains and supply chain regionalization because of the pandemic, the impacts on freight, the opportunity, the massive opportunity that Michigan has with Ontario and cross-border collaboration, you look at the future of drones and how that's shaping so much right now, from how you get your medicine to how you get your groceries. And so, you know, I think because we've been an automotive leader for so long, it puts us, no pun intended, in the driver's seat to influence these other industries, and in doing that, potentially create jobs and new clusters in the state for these new industries. I think the stat is that autonomy or autonomous vehicles and all that come with it will grow to about $3.3 trillion by 2030, but the actual vehicle, like, the vessel that moves you from point A to point B, that's just a slice of it. I think it's like a fourth, with other things like maintenance, aftermarkets, services, systems, data, fleet, infrastructure making up the rest.

So, as we go forward, it's great that we've been a vehicle leader, but we need to focus on all of these other things, and as we're creating jobs and building industry, we need to make sure that Michigan is simply just the best place to move around in the world. You know, we have to make sure that these technologies actually impact our communities. And so, I really like how the state is approaching things right now, our partners are approaching things right now. It just seems like all the right pieces are coming together at the right time. Yeah, I would add that, I mean, what we've learned really is that Detroit really is becoming a high-tech hub here in the Midwest, and its real estate value is really second to none.

When you look at the areas in the Silicon Valley who are looking to develop these incredible pieces of technology, they can get so much more from a talent perspective, from just, you know, the cost of running a business here in the state of Michigan that it's extraordinarily attractive. So, I think what we've learned, we're really excited about being part of that story of Bedrock, being involved in these different technology innovations and bringing some of these technology companies here to the city of Detroit, into the region. And what's been really, really fun as a technologist is being able to partner with companies like Loom and Scoop, West Coast companies doing some really innovative things in how they look at carpooling technology, how they look at commute incentives for team members and employees across the region, and it's just been a lovely opportunity to partner with these technology folks that hadn't been in the state ever before. That's great. That's great. So, Komal brought it up, and Trevor. Really, you all sort of talked a little bit about this.

You know, one of the things that's talked often as a goal of future mobility is around the way it can create sort of more equitable communities and increase access to mobility. Are there any projects that are going on right now in Michigan or that you guys know about that kind of speak directly to that, those concepts of sort of equity and access? Yeah, actually, if it's okay, I'd turn it over to Komal, because Ann Arbor is doing some really cool things, and I think she would be more eloquent than me on that. Sure. I'm happy to share one project that jumps out at me.

One of the things that I think the pandemic highlighted was the need for helping seniors and people with disability, people with limited means get around, especially for essential trips. So, be it for their medical appointments, for groceries. And so, I've been fortunate to sit on a mobility leadership circle for this project.

It's called the Ride@50+ program. It's funded by AARP and Toyota, and it's operated by Phoenix Mobility, and it's a ride sourcing platform where you can book, as well as schedule and pay for rides, but it includes rides from both private and public organizations. That could include something like a taxi, to community-based groups, as well as public transit providers. They're also building volunteer riders into the mix to help alleviate some of the cost concerns that might be for some of the rides, and by having it all in one place, both be multimodal as well as multi-platform. So, you can just call and book these rides, as well as there's an opportunity to do it via your computer, through your phone.

I think it's a very interesting project, an interesting service that has been deployed in the region, and the two main things I think that they're doing really well is, one, that they're engaging the community. It is a bottom-up approach to reaching these people with needs and providing them with the service, and through their volunteer network they're trying to engage as much of the local people as possible to make sure that these rides could be met, and it is a very consumer-focused platform. So, I think this one is definitely indicative of, you know, the more solutions we need which can address access needs across the state. Yeah, and I would add, you know, in the governor's budget this year, just released last week, there's a line item called the Mobility Futures Initiative, and as part of that, there is seed funding for a mobility-as-a-service platform that would be statewide.

The goal there is really to solve for two things: horizontal equity and vertical equity. Horizontal equity in a sense that many of the innovations within the industry don't always benefit everyone equally. For instance, those without smartphones can't access many of the new services that are coming online, or those that are wanting to switch to electric but it's just too expensive. Like, how do you even get them in the game? And then vertical equity, you know, around disadvantaged groups. How can we create more systematic equity, improve health outcomes, path out of poverty, work with corporates to do that. And so, actually, MDOT is a leader in this space.

They have an Office of Passenger Transportation. We're working with them to, hopefully, if this budget season goes the way that we want it to go, have some dollars to do something on a statewide level that's never been done before. Yeah, I think I would... We have just kicked off an innovation studio. So recently, you know, as I mentioned, we are talking to the community all the time in the Corktown area and really trying to understand what the mobility challenges that they're facing today and how we can position ourselves to help solve them.

And so, we invested in an innovation studio in a company called Newlab out of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and we are in kind of the early stages, but we've identified, you know, in talking and listening with our community, what those challenges are. And so, they're at the point now where they are casting the net and inviting startups to come in to identify and create sustainable solutions to address these problems. And so, we're really excited about what will come of it. It's indicative about the future about working differently and really kind of challenging ourselves and pushing the boundaries, and I believe we're gonna start seeing pilots sometime in the early summer in the Corktown area that will really start solving some of these challenges that we have currently. I think one of our goals, and really, one of our primary missions on the mobility team, is really thinking about how we provide a number of different transportation options that allow individuals to choose how they want to visit the city, and we look at this from both, you know, a team member perspective.

So, those that are working within our family of companies, and then we've got 18, 20,000 folks down there in the pre-COVID world on any given day, and then we wanna think about it as well as those who come to visit the city. How are they getting down there? How do we make sure that there are different options for folks to visit us? And so, we've done a couple of things, and most importantly, and what I'm really proud of for the organization, we have launched a number of campaigns to encourage team members, and tenants, and visitors to try and take advantage of alternative modes of transportation when coming into the city. So, we believe that this is absolutely vital from a real estate play because it minimizes the overall parking demand, but it also allows individuals to find ways that either are affordable, that are quick, that are also safe and sometimes more enjoyable to come down and visit our city.

Some of these things we've done is that, you know, when the QLINE was up and running we were offering complimentary QLINE passes. We've worked with our partners Loom again, who I brought up earlier, as a mobility infrastructure provider to encourage and reward those team members through incentives to either try carpooling, try taking transportation, ride your bike, walk, different ways to get into our central business district so we can alleviate that parking issue that we had before. Many other options that we've provided. We have a Lyft program where we partnered with Lyft to provide our critical onsite infrastructure workers and teams complimentary and discounted opportunities to get into the city.

We've worked really hard to attract these technology, small technology mobility operations to come here. Scoop, again, as I mentioned earlier, was our first major market expansion into the Midwest. It allowed our team members and the public to opt in to carpooling opportunities to get in and out of the city. We provided Dart subsidized transit passes.

Bedrock is deeply, deeply committed to understanding how we can change commute behavior not only for the benefit, clearly, of real estate, but for the city as a whole. That's great. Thank you. So Heather, I'm gonna put you on the spot immediately, because I think everyone else is gonna have a ready-made answer for this. If I owned a mobility startup and I was looking to possibly move to Michigan to locate my company, what's your 30-second, 1-minute elevator pitch for why I should do that? So I think, you know, as someone who was lured out from the West Coast to come to Detroit, a city I've deeply-- you know, I've just really fallen in love with, my big pitch not only would be how incredible the people in this city are, how innovative and entrepreneurial the folks that we have with partnerships with the city, partners in these really large companies, you know, the big three, who are all working for the betterment of the city, there are lots and lots of opportunities in terms of business leaders, technology companies that have come here. I mean, we've got...

You know, we've got Lyft. We've got LinkedIn. Microsoft has a hub here. So, I mean, I think there's a lot of attraction for technology companies to come here, and the biggest, I think the biggest thing that I hear, the only pushback I get, is, "What does the talent look like? "What does the talent look like?" And what I have found is that there is an incredible amount of talent here in technology in the local market. We've got U of M very, very close by, and they are...

I mean, they're a fantastic opportunity to partner with to find that talent. So, when I'm making my pitch it's always about, you know, we've got the talent. Real estate, generally speaking, is going to be considerably... You're gonna get way more free money than you will in Chicago, than you will on the coast. And you have, I mean, just really, really good partners, both regionally and at the state in government that really wanna see the success of this, which is, you know, really business-forward thinking government entities, which is always really helpful in this situation. That was great.

Trevor, you might need to put Heather on the payroll there. (chuckles) I know. That was really good. Why don't you go next? And I'm guessing you've done this before. Yeah. It's like, where do I start? And it's always better when a company, and a senior executive within a company like Heather, tells a story, right.

But at least from my vantage point, what I'm seeing right now is for startups there are multiple different ways to talk about Michigan and Detroit, and that's exciting. That's how it should be if you're a global hub. So, let's say that you're a hardware startup.

There are a lot of great markets for hardware startups, but a lot of the high-tech markets have, you know, great software companies but not a lot of rapid prototyping low-volume manufacturing. Michigan has that in spades. You know, we have factories operating with excess capacity, especially during traditional automotive off cycles. And then let's say we're talking about supply chain stuff.

You know, maybe again, they're looking at a tech market like a Silicon Valley, or parts of Europe. You know, sometimes local manufacturing is cost prohibitive. Foreign markets have IP theft risk. In Michigan you have this deep, reliable manufacturing expertise and infrastructure. Let's say you're a startup that's looking for customers, which is like every startup.

You know, you go to a place like Silicon Valley, there's limited access to end customers when it comes to the future of mobility. We have 96 of the top 100 global automotive suppliers based here, and on top of that, like, our own companies are reinvesting in crazy amounts over just the last two years. So, General Motors made a $3 billion investment and it's Hamtramck, Michigan facility to retool production for electric pickups, vans, battery modules. Ford and Michigan Central Station, they're not just building, like, a campus for themselves. This is gonna be a whole district that's open for everybody. And then you see what Bedrock is doing.

You know, it's a tech company that understands mobility and is at this nexus of where these industries are converging, and the truth is, like, you know, you can start your idea in a place like Silicon Valley, or Austin, or Boston. If you really want to be on vehicle, you need to talk to the engineers, and you need to talk to the buyer, and you need to talk to the R&D teams, and those folks are right here. So, obviously, it's different for every startup, but the last thing I'll mention is that the state is on its game right now. Like we get, if you're a startup, like, government resources are this big mystery, and right now, through the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, through, like, the Department of Transportation, through the MEDC, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, we've almost stitched together this assembly line that demystifies these resources. So, if you come here, it's gonna be pretty easy to access public-private partnerships and get you some of the things you need. Whether it's good talent or a good location to base operations, whatever it is, I think you should choose Michigan, all you startups out there.

Sure. Well, as I was listening to Trevor, I was like, "I probably would say the same thing. "I probably would say the same thing," but I think what I would add to it is, you know, modern day mobility was invented here.

We have the density of the industry. We have, you know, the domain expertise. To Heather's point, we have top engineering talent coming out of places like U of M.

So, small skills companies, or the entry companies, they wanna be close to the end customer. It's very valuable for them to be close to the OEMs and the tier ones, and that's what we have here for them. And I would then say that Michigan Central could be a powerful tool where we bring these folks together to co-develop and collaborate together. I would also say, if I were to put a pitch in for, you know, what we're doing at Michigan Central, I would say that, you know, it's about its proximity to the city center of Detroit.

It's the attributes that the site has, as Trevor said, right. We're building a district. The attributes of that district are gonna allow companies to be able to test, like, multimodal solutions across air, across ground.

If I think about where it sits, you know, the Detroit River is right behind it, so we have water. We're a train station. We have rail behind us. So, when I think about multimodes, I think that, you know, we have what folks will be looking for here in Michigan and at Michigan Central. Oh yeah.

I think everything's probably already said, but two things I will highlight is some unique assets that the region has. So, we definitely, when it comes in the connected and autonomous space, we have the American Center for Mobility. We have the University of Michigan's Mcity support for research, as well as testing and validation of these technologies.

We have these two amazing hubs, apart from we also have EPA here. So, you know, if you are a company that requires testing and validation, these assets exist. And like already highlighted, there's plenty of opportunity to deploy even in a living lab situation.

So yes, Detroit has Michigan Central. We have this corridor that's going to connect Detroit and Ann Arbor. And then within Ann Arbor we have the Ann Arbor Connected Vehicle Test Environment that was set up by University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, that again, you know, with all the different connected technologies across the 27 square miles of Ann Arbor create a very interesting test bed for connected and autonomous technologies that's ready right now. So, there's just plenty opportunity. So, the ecosystem as a whole, with all the assets, the talent, the resources and programs, the amazing incubators, Spark included, that can support the startup as they get settled in and want to think through their business and scaling opportunity and what clients can help them do that.

So, we have that, and then obviously, the industry domain expertise in this area. That's great. Let me just add that I think the challenge for us, and the opportunity, is how do we all work together to make sure that we're leveraging each other, right, because I think that's where the power comes in.

That we're not duplicating effort, that we're making sure that we're building off of each other, and I think that's both a challenge and an opportunity for us. So, I'm excited about that. That was literally gonna be my next question.

No, I mean, I've been struck by just the amount of projects that you guys have mentioned, the amount of partners involved. Talk a little bit about that and the importance of collaboration and working together, especially, you know between different kinds of entities, every board from government, to cities, and to global corporations, to startups. How have you found that collaboration to work in Southeast Michigan? Well, for me, I think, you know, we're just... I think the car company has probably been doing it for a while. I think we've alluded to, you know, Heather talked about the parking garage and Komal talked about the project, the urban data platform, and working together.

I think, you know, what struck me is when Heather was talking about the smart parking garage, and we think about, you know, we have parking garages that have different technologies within the city. How do we build on that and find, you know, in the next parking garage we put something different. And so, as startup companies wanna come and they wanna tech these types of technologies, that maybe it's not a one-size-fits-all, but we can find the right place for them to go and test and advance their solutions. You know, how do we connect the corridor will be an amazing connection with Ann Arbor, and with ACM, and with Mcity. And so, how do we think about, you know, maybe you test...

You're not ready to test in the streets yet at Michigan Central, but you can test in kind of the... You know, a more protected environment that that offers. And so, maybe there's a progression of it. And so, I think to me, when I think about that opportunity those are the things that are running through my head as my colleagues were talking today.

Yeah. I think I would add that for for Bedrock, and as one of the largest real estate developers in the central business district, in order for us to really be innovative, we have to fundamentally seek out partnerships that make sense for real estate, of course, that's our business, but more importantly, for the region. And I think as everyone on this call would probably agree, innovation and technology is extraordinarily important for the city of Detroit. And the thing that I keep thinking about is how do we innovate in real estate, which is, and I always jokingly say we're about 10 years behind in any sort of technology innovation, because real estate has been traditionally very successful, and people ultimately, if it's not broke, they don't fix it. And so, it has always been interesting in real estate. And so when I think...

Which is also what drew me to Bedrock, because Bedrock is so deeply committed to innovation and technology in the real estate space. So, for us it's really an understanding of who makes the bet, you know, who's who wants to be a partner. How can we bring different folks from out of region into the city? I mean, this is... You know, this is the birthplace of the automobile. I mean, when you think about there's no better place for mobility, for mobility to be born again and to really be the center of innovation for the entire United States.

So for Bedrock, you know, we have a significant parking infrastructure throughout the city in Corktown, the Assembly garage, and the next big innovation for us, in my mind, is really understanding data, understanding how our constituents are using parking. Is there a way to make better data-driven decisions based on whether it be sensors in the garages, whether it be time of day people are parking, so that we can really start innovating. I can't do that by myself. And the industry itself, you know, there's been some really great innovation in the last five years, but I think to really, really make this a world-class city we're going to have to have these world-class partnerships and bring folks in from out of region. Yeah, I would agree.

I think you got... It's just such a good panel, because everyone is coming up with these great answers and we're running out of things to say, because we all are sort of in lockstep, and sort of on script, and in sort of the same energy mode of just seeing that Detroit and Michigan have an incredible decade ahead of it. When I look at public-private partnerships, I mean, to me, public investment should spark private investment, and the reason we got a 40-mile driverless vehicle corridor is because for a decade USDOT, DOT, were putting in hardware, for instance on Interstate 94, to track backups and weather conditions. You know, we had the investment in the American Center for Mobility, the investment to upgrade DTW, all the work that Ann Arbor has done. The largest, I believe, vehicle to infrastructure deployment in the country is in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

And so, you know, when you begin to lay that content out in front of a company that wants to do something that's never been done before, that isn't from Michigan but wants to be, it's a pretty compelling storyline, and the truth is, just a last point to make, you know, there are these macro trends that I'll mention every so often. Like, software will represent more than 50% of the value of a vehicle by 2030, but in a place like Michigan, will the workforce be trained to engineer new software technologies? And that falls on universities, community college, and policymakers. If you look at, like, electric vehicles expected to pass gas-powered vehicles by 2030 in sales.

Not if governments don't build out charging infrastructure that reduces range anxiety. So, I mean, there are these these waves that either we're gonna be able to ride, or we're gonna get drowned by and we're gonna lose our leadership position. So, it's a pretty incredible time to be here, because I just have to imagine this is what it felt like in, like, the tens and the twenties, you know, 1910s, 1920s, where it was like the three color traffic light was being invented right here in Detroit. You know, lines on roads, those sorts of things.

It's like this 10 to 15-year period, where a hundred years from now someone's gonna look back and say, "Wow, those were really mundane things, "but it must've been pretty exciting at the time. "and frankly, they ended up changing the world." I think we have the capability to continue to change the world, continue that narrative. So, I'll add a final note to this amazing discussion. We've been talking about public-private collaboration, public-private partnership, but it really is about public-private innovation, that we're all innovating together.

We're now in that phase. It's not about, "Somebody developed a technology, let's deploy it." It's like we have to be able to work together to find the solution because the problems are so complex that we're trying to solve. So, you know, look at climate change, sustainability.

The effort that's required to have the impact that we need from a carbon neutrality standpoint requires both public and private to innovate together. So, we're really excited that Ann Arbor has the A2Zero plan, where the city is trying to demonstrate the need and the vision, how they want to do it. But it's equally amazing that at the same time we're seeing the industry come up with, you know, many, many electric car models, many different varieties of, you know, how can we have an impact from having a diversified portfolio of technology, of assets that people can buy, that are affordable finally, and that, you know, have only an EV is actually in the realm of possibility for everyone. And then that brings the question of the infrastructure that needs to be created, and that again brings together, both public and private need to work together to do that.

So, the problem has... It requires us to continue to collaborate together to have the impact that we need. And it's amazing that in Michigan, I think, with the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification we have both the leadership and thinking around it, and even on city level, you know, the cities are also thinking about it to support that vision at state. But the industry is also thinking of how can we impact that by either putting products, or like Heather said, encouraging our employees to think of their carbon footprint as well, or industry thinking of, Ford thinking of its supply chain and saying, you know, "How can we reduce the carbon footprint there?" So, it will be a combined effort, and that's really exciting to me.

That's great. So, this has been a great panel. I've got one more question for you all. Trevor kind of hinted at it when he talked about this sort of idea of this incredible decade. So, South by Southwest has always been kind of about looking towards the future. I'd love for you all to sort of put on your, like, prognosticator cap for a moment.

What's one thing you're really excited about that you think is gonna happen in Michigan in the next 10 years? And Carolina, we'll start with you, because I feel like I know what your answer is gonna be. I dunno. I feel like there's so many. I think this is the next wave of working differently.

I can see, as I think about the future of mobility, I think about the future workforce, I think about all of the new technologies that make people's lives easier. I mean, the list is endless for me, and I really feel like we have the alignment. You can hear the energy on this panel today, that we work really closely with the state of Michigan, we're working really closely with the city of Detroit. These public-private entities together, I think that's how we're gonna get it done. Sorry. I know that wasn't one thing.

(chuckles) No, that's fine. You did good. Who wants to go next? Trevor? Yeah, sure. So, I think we're headed towards a very inclusive and multimodal future.

I think in the next 10 years, 20 years, you know, Michigan's gonna have drone skyways that are focused on critical deliveries of things like medical supplies and small manufacturing parts. I think you're gonna see, especially in the next couple of years, a surge of investment, again no pun intended, in charging infrastructure, and not just infrastructure needed, but infrastructure that makes it convenient for electric vehicles to be adopted at accelerated rates, and that includes policies that match, making it a lot easier to own and enjoy an electric vehicle. And also, I think we're gonna see a surge in talent. I don't think in a few years we're gonna say Michigan has a talent shortage.

I think that we're well on our way, through programming within state government, local partners, companies, to getting more software engineers to grow here and to come here. So, I think those are a couple of the things that I'm tracking. That's great. Heather, do you wanna go next? Yeah. I mean, I think... Really, I strongly believe we will see big things coming from Michigan's mobility sector in the next 5, 10 years.

I mean really, from an autonomous vehicle development standpoint and tech infrastructure standpoint, Bedrock, we are committed to being fully engaged in the state's mobility industry. I mean, when we think about how we expand our real estate offerings and how we become and position ourselves as an innovator and cutting-edge thinker in the built environment and urban development, mobility is going to be one of those critically important things as a real estate developer that we have to think about and will help shape and design the future of what we're developing. And I'm really, really excited to see how that technology layer helps inform decisions around how we build our buildings, how we decide to, you know, program a space. All of these things are critically reliant and will become more and more reliant as we think about real estate and the convergence of mobility in the future. And I think a good...

You know, to go back to that collaboration with partnerships across not only the city and the region, but nationally, is going to be critically important and something I believe very strongly we'll see a lot more of in the city of Detroit and the region. Yeah. I have no doubt. We will be innovating. We will be celebrating mobility and having many amazing solutions in our region and really being at the forefront of technology development and deployment. The only hope I have is that while we do all of that, we continue to keep our focus on sustainability and equity while we do that.

It's a little bit challenging. I know we all believe it, but it's sometimes hard to practice. So, my hope for our 5 to 10 year mission is that we continue to invest in policies and frameworks that keep that mission focused on sustainability and equity as we become the new frontier for mobility. Great answers, everybody. Thank you all so much for being here today. Thanks for everyone who's listening, watching right now.

Really appreciate you guys, and I appreciate the time. If you guys wanna learn any more, you guys can check out the Michigan House Booth which is on the South by Southwest platform. Have a lot more info on all of these people and all their companies there. Thanks so much, everybody.

2021-06-12 19:40

Show Video

Other news