Speck Design and Ford host event on The Future of Transportation

By Savannah Peterson

It took 25 years for the hybrid car to reach 4 percent market share. How long will it take for autonomous cars to be fully adopted? Will safety concerns curb the transition to driverless vehicles or advance it? How might companies and organizations collaborate to bring new technologies to life in the transportation space? 

As part of our recent event on the Future of Transportation that we co-hosted with the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto, we explored how our transportation experience will change as we embark on the driverless journey. As part of the event, I had the privilege of moderating a panel of technology leaders from the Ford Research and Innovation Center, AAA Club Partners, Lyft, Swyft, and SFMTA, who shared their thoughts on everything from mobility, to safety, to car sharing versus car ownership.

Featured panelists:

  • Sudipto Aich – Principal Researcher, Ford Research and Innovation Center
  • Michael Slattery - Senior Vice President, Strategy, Innovation and Connected Car at AAA Club Partners
  • David Rust - Head of Operations Strategy at Lyft
  • Jonny Simkin - Co-founder and CEO of Swyft
  • Timothy Papandreou – Chief Innovation Officer and Director, Office of Innovation at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA)
From left to right: Savannah Peterson, Timothy Papandreou, Michael Slattery, Sudipto Aich, David Rust, and Jonny Simkin

From left to right: Savannah Peterson, Timothy Papandreou, Michael Slattery, Sudipto Aich, David Rust, and Jonny Simkin

From a multi-modal approach to a shift in personal mobility, here are the key takeaways from our event:


  • The Internet of Mobility (IOM) is taking center stage, and with it, the luster of car ownership is waning. The status that a “nice ride” once represented is now more a burden to park than a chariot for escape in our increasingly dense urban areas. Sharing is more comfortable now - our illusion of privacy is trumped by our need to get places cheaper and faster.
  • There is little room, budget or desire to build out an infrastructure significantly, so the future is about getting cars off the road, and getting more efficient with our transportation options. 
  • Municipalities are moving away from being merely public transport providers, to being referees who create the rules and frameworks that allow for innovation, yet protect and advocate for the public.
  • There is far more to our impending personal mobility than autonomous cars. The experts on our panel agreed that collaboration was the key to getting people where they need to go safer and more efficiently.
  • In this ecosystem of true shared mobility, the services will all be deep-linked. They will communicate through a single user interface, getting you from point A to B to C the fastest and safest way every time. You will no longer feel the pains of car ownership, or excessive traffic, or excessive wait times in a remote location. 
  • Transportation is complex, and no one solution will work. The hard part will be integrating the different modes into a good user experience. Some argue that this multi-modal model is already upon us.

It will take a lot of open, collaborative software to optimize our transportation system. It cannot be forgotten that cars, scooters, buses, etc. are all hardware. They are pieces of hardware going through a system, and the ebbs and flows in that throughput are what affect our transportation times. When we work together to optimize both the hardware and software of our infrastructure, and let go of our illusion of control and privacy on the road, we will have a new found sense of transportation freedom.