TC Sessions: Mobility is back, and this year we are bringing together the best and brightest founders, investors, engineers and experts on the future of transportation for a two-day, in-person event May 18 and May 19 in San Mateo, California.
An online day will follow on May 20 to give our audience, including those who were unable to attend, a chance to tune in online and catch highlights from the live event, network and watch the full sessions. We’re excited to announce Herbert Diess, Group CEO of the Volkswagen Group, will discuss his vision for the future of mobility during this online-only portion of the event.
TC Sessions: Mobility will feature speakers on the main stage, a bevy of startup exhibits, demos, networking and a live pitch-off with a pretty sweet prize. We’re excited to give a first look of some of the folks — and vehicles — who will be on our main stage and what we plan to talk about.
Who will be on our stage? We’re glad you’re asked. Let’s start with two vehicles that haven’t had an in-person public debut yet: an electric vehicle that Arrival is building for Uber and the custom-built Zoox robotaxi.
Other topics on our list for this year include exploring the opportunities and challenges for urban air companies and cities, the dual paths companies are taking to commercialize autonomous vehicle technology, cybersecurity, micromobility, self-driving trucks and autonomous delivery.
Our guests include Aurora co-founder and chief product officer Sterling Anderson, Motional CTO Laura Major, Nuro co-founder and CEO Jiajun Zhu and Waymo co-CEO Dmitri Dolgov. Then there’s Bonny Simi, who heads up air operations and people at Joby Aviation, and Rebecca Yeung, corporate vice president at FedEx, who is responsible for the company’s robotics and autonomous vehicle initiatives, as well as cybersecurity phenoms Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek with Cruise.
Buy your general admission or early-stage startup demo package today before prices increase. We’ve also recently added two new ways to attend the event; Expo Only and Online Only passes ($75 and $45, respectively).
How to Land Early-Stage Funding
with Yoon Choi (Muirwoods Ventures), Mar Hershenson (Pear VC) and Gabriel Scheer (Elemental Excelerator)
Spoiler alert: Uber for X is no longer a differentiator. Mobility isn’t a nascent vertical, and sector startups seeking funding should consider that advantage. Investors don’t need to explain the venture-sized opportunity in the transportation industry; instead they want to see contrarian growth — whether that’s a new angle on an old technology, or profitability. TechCrunch is bringing together three venture capitalists — Yoon Choi from Muirwoods Ventures, Mar Hershenson from Pear VC and Gabriel Scheer from Elemental — to talk about their investment strategies, what’s hot and what’s not.
Turning an AV Innovation into a Product
with Oliver Cameron (Cruise) and Laura Major (Motional)
Autonomous vehicle technology has evolved from the confines of academic research to living labs — aka testing on closed tracks and public roads. Now, a handful of companies, including Cruise and Motional, are trying to turn their innovations into a product that not only has the technical capability to navigate city streets, but is approachable and easy for people to use. Cruise VP of product and former Voyage co-founder Oliver Cameron and Motional CTO Laura Major will cover the technical and deployment challenges to creating a product people can and will want to use.
Vehicle Spotlight: Zoox
with Jesse Levinson (Zoox)
Zoox first debuted its custom-built robotaxi vehicle in December 2020 in a virtual event. That vehicle has been largely under wraps ever since, with testing occurring in areas away from the public. Now, the Zoox vehicle is ready for an up-close and personal debut at TC Sessions: Mobility. Zoox co-founder and CTO Jesse Levinson will discuss the vehicle, the company’s progress and where we might see Zoox next.
How to Unlock Profits in Micromobility
with Alex Nesic (Drover AI), Janelle Wang (Acton) and speaker to be announced
Despite the vast sums of venture capital that has gone into shared micromobility, the industry has yet to reach unit economics favorable enough to turn a profit. But it’s getting close. We’ll sit down with Drover AI’s Alex Nesic, Acton’s Janelle Wang and one other panelist to talk about the new methods, and the new tech, that’s being deployed to help micromobility companies unlock profits.
The World According to Waymo
with Dmitri Dolgov, co-CEO of Waymo
Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving arm, has reached significant milestones recently, from launching a robotaxi service in San Francisco to securing partnerships with legacy logistics companies that will help it commercialize autonomous freight. However, challenges remain on all sides — political, technological, commercial and social. Dmitri Dolgov, co-CEO of Waymo, was there from the beginning. As one of the founders of Google’s self-driving car project, which began in 2009 and became Waymo in 2016, he’ll talk us through how far autonomy has come, and how far it still has to go.
TechCrunch Mobility Pitch-off
The industry’s brightest entrepreneurs will take the stage in front of a live audience and a panel of industry experts, pitching revolutionary technologies. Founders — apply here.
How Urban Air Fits in Cities
with Gary Gysin (Wisk Aero), Cyrus Sigari (UP.Partners) and Bonny Simi (Joby Aviation)
What will it take to execute urban air mobility operations in cities? TechCrunch Mobility will sit down with Gary Gysin, president and CEO of Wisk Aero, Cyrus Sigari, co-founder and managing partner at UP.Partners, and Bonny Simi, head of air operations and people at Joby Aviation, to discuss both the challenges and opportunities in the urban air mobility space and what it will take to not just launch in cities, but to actually be of value to residents.
The Path to Commercializing Autonomous Trucks
with Sterling Anderson (Aurora Innovation) and Rebecca Yeung (FedEx)
Aurora has been running a pilot program with FedEx to haul goods between Dallas and Houston via self-driving Paccar trucks since September 2021. As with most other autonomous freight pilots, human safety operators are present in the vehicles, but Aurora’s goal is to operate its trucks fully autonomously by the end of next year. We’ll check in with Aurora co-founder Sterling Anderson and FedEx’s head of robotics and autonomous vehicle technology Rebecca Yeung, and discuss the pilot’s progress and implications for the future of autonomous trucking.
How Your Startup Should Think About Collaboration, Not Just Capital
with John Du (GM Ventures), Taylor Ogan (Snow Bull Capital) and Trina Van Pelt (Intel Capital)
The capital markets have a way of distracting even the most scrappy founders. However, as we’re starting to see, a well-priced funding round isn’t a replacement for a well-oiled operation. And startups should think more about strategic opportunities, and collaborations, when giving up those coveted cap table spots. We’re bringing together GM Ventures’ John Du, Snow Bull Capital’s Taylor Ogan and Intel Capital’s Trina Van Pelt to talk about partnerships in the mobility world – especially the ones that you’re probably not thinking about.
A Contrarian View on Deploying Autonomy at Scale
with Austin Russell (Luminar)
Luminar founder and CEO Austin Russell has a different view of how to deploy autonomy at scale from other AV developers in the industry, as well as Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Lidar sits at the center of Russell’s vision, but perhaps not in the way one might think. We’ll dig into Russell’s perspective and his strategy of how to bring autonomous vehicle to the masses at scale — without pulling the human out of the driver’s seat.
The New Passenger Economy
with Nils Wollny (Holoride)
In anticipation of a future where autonomy is the norm and passengers will seek stimulating entertainment to break up the monotony of a commute, Holoride is offering an in-car VR system that turns every vehicle into a moving theme park. Only the Audi-spinoff isn’t waiting for full autonomy to commercialize its product and bring us into the new passenger economy. Holoride’s VR tech is coming to Audi cars as early as this summer. We’ll sit down with Nils Wollny, co-founder and CEO of Holoride, to talk about what place VR, blockchain, NFTs and crypto currency have in the automotive space.NEED TITLE
Securing Today’s Cars and Tomorrow’s Robotaxis
with Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek (Cruise)
A new era in connected cars is here, and with that comes new security risks. And then there are robotaxis and other autonomous vehicles. Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, undisputed leaders in the cybersecurity industry, who both hold top security roles at GM-backed self-driving company Cruise, will join us to discuss the dynamic and rapidly changing realm of automotive cybersecurity.
Vehicle Spotlight: Arrival
with Avinash Rugoobur (Arrival)
Arrival announced last year plans to design and build an affordable, purpose-built electric vehicle for ride-hailing in partnership with Uber. Before the vehicle enters production in Q3 2023, Arrival will show it off here at TC Sessions: Mobility. Arrival President Avinash Rugoobur will talk about the process of designing and hopefully producing the vehicle, what the EV company is also working on and what may be right around the corner.
TechCrunch Mobility Pitch-off
The industry’s brightest entrepreneurs will take the stage in front of a live audience and a panel of industry experts, pitching revolutionary technologies. Founders – apply here.
Where is My Autonomous Car?
with Yanbing Li (Aurora), Saswat Panigrahi (Waymo) and Sarah Tariq (NVIDIA)
When it comes to moving people via autonomous vehicles, two paths are beginning to emerge: Robotaxi services and private vehicles with autonomous capabilities. Companies are moving toward commercializing robotaxis by aiming straight for full autonomy. Automakers, on the other hand, are rolling out personal vehicles that have lower levels of autonomy via advanced driver assistance systems today, with the end goal of slowly improving until they can offer personal vehicles with higher levels of autonomous functionality. We’ll sit down with the AV experts to discuss the stumbling blocks to each approach and which might deliver first at a mass scale.