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Traffic accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Fully automated vehicles promise a new era in car safety, but completely self-driving cars on roads are still in the future. With this in mind, Nauto is rethinking transportation by using AI technology to learn how to best equip automated vehicles for a future of safe and trusted transportation.

In this episode of Greymatter, Nauto CEO Stefan Heck and Greylock partner Reid Hoffman discuss a blended environment with humans and machines, the evolution of road infrastructure, and the impact of AI on human jobs. The two visionaries also share advice on how startups can successfully partner with large companies and enterprises.

(Disclosure: Greylock is an investor in Nauto.)

Below are a few takeaways from their discussion, but you definitely want to listen to the entire podcast.


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Partnering with large companies

“It’s not easy working with large companies, but I think it’s a huge advantage if you can pull it off.”

It is a great opportunity when startups partner with large companies, especially when the company is chosen strategically. Look for partners that are at the forefront of innovation in your industry, both technologically and in willingness to experiment and pioneer. Build the relationship on a foundation of collaboration, optimization, and a humble understanding that aspects of industries will be slower to accept radical change. The best startups can deploy and scale well while listening to the needs and opportunities of their partners.

Evolution of society

“Today it’s about 2,000 vehicles per lane per hour maximum before you get a traffic jam. With autonomy, you might be able to take that to 14,000, 15,000, 16,000 per lane per hour. That’s a four-lane highway turning into a virtual 32-lane highway.”

Mobility and cities are deeply intertwined and require thoughtful deployment about how best to prepare for a safe future with new vehicle technology. This includes a push to invest in shared public infrastructure across the United States and a societal move to vehicle sharing. As autonomous vehicles deploy, vehicle sharing is important to mitigate potential congestion from more vehicles on the road, miles traveled and sprawl. Cities must start to embrace shared autonomous innovation and begin to think about planning land use to reflect the transformation to make cities more livable and safer.

A blended environment of human and machines

“I’m quite optimistic about us being able to make the transition as long as we’re thoughtful, and we help people find new roles, and we continue to create jobs.”

AI has the power to eliminate some jobs and create others. For example, automated driving and trucking is one of the largest opportunities for improvements in AI technology and for advancement of humans in other functions of the industry. The broader reinvention of the educational system in all industries urgently needs to be addressed. The transition can be eased with pro-entrepreneurship policies and measures that support job creation in areas like education and health care. The focus needs to be on building AIs that enhance human productivity, experience, and work.

Elisa Schreiber is the marketing partner at Greylock Partners.

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