This interview with Tim Woods is about making technology products amazing. Tim is the founding partner at POCO Labs and General Manager at the Autonomous Vehicle Alliance. Tim is located in Michigan. POCO Labs has worked with clients like Disney, Microsoft and Best Buy. They help develop products that engage consumers on another level. One of their recent projects was working on Microsoft’s HoloLens.
The Autonomous Vehicle Alliance is a group of leading autonomous companies (auto companies, insurance, even a large mall operator). The alliance focuses on issues around the consumer, which is quite an interesting perspective.
Tim also has quite an interesting background which we talk about.
-What’s an essential part to product development?
-How do you help your clients?
-What type of issues do you talk about at the Autonomous Vehicle Alliance?
-Around the world are people excited about self-driving cars?
-When will the first level 5 autonomous car service be available, and in what capacity?
Dave Kruse: Hey everyone. Welcome to another episode of Flyover Labs and today we get to talk to Tim Woods, and Tim in the Founding Partner of POCO Labs and General Manager at the Autonomous Vehicle Alliance, which is located in Michigan. So POCO Labs has worked with clients like Disney and Microsoft and Best Buy and they help develop products that engage consumers essentially on another level of engagements and Autonomous Vehicle Alliance is a group of Autonomous Vehicle Alliance like Ford, Toyota, Google and Bosh and Alliance focuses on issues around the consumer and how they are going to react and how their lives will change with autonomous vehicles, which is a quite an interesting angle. And Tim also has quite an interesting background, which I’m excited to hear about. So Tim, thanks for coming on the show today.
Tim Woods: Certainly, my pleasure.
Dave Kruse: Definitely. So can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Tim Woods: Sure. So I kind of through happenstance and sheer luck I think ended up where I am today. I actually go way back, was going to be an electrical engineer and changed that to a business major and went into marketing and worked early on in my career in advertising. Had the very good luck of shifting from that industry to a product development years and years ago and had been in that space pretty much every since, moving from just doing kind of marketing and sales and those sorts of things and to pure consulting and kind of leveraging my marketing background in kind of new ways related to consumer research and the different tools that we use at POCO Labs to get to new opportunities for our clients.
Dave Kruse: Nice. And what was some of the projects you worked on in your past or one of the projects that kind of stands out?
Tim Woods: Oh! Well, you know it’s interesting. So I was working at a very, very traditional product development company, early on in my career and as the world started turning towards technology in the kind of the mid-90s and when that industry had its first downturn towards the end of the 90’s. We had been doing some work in the connected home space and there was an opportunity to work with an organization with one of our clients at the time called the Internet Home Alliance and it was a large organization that – an important organization that nobody quite frankly has ever heard of. They had members such as Microsoft, Cisco, Panasonic, Intel, GM OnStart, Sears at the time, Best Buy, there were about 45 different companies from across kind of the connected ecosystem. And if you remember back in those days, in the early 2000s, late 90s, the internet was kind of the new thing, particularly in peoples’ lives and what these companies knew and understood was that it was going to kind of change everything, it’s going to change the business models, it was going to change consumer lives, but they really didn’t know how at the time, and the IHA, the Internet Home Alliance was an organization that was formed to apply ecosystem thinking to connectivity and what was that going to mean? What was smart homes? How are they going to evolve? What was mobility going to look like? What was health and energy? All of these different topics around connectivity and you know back then we didn’t have iPhones and we barely had mobile phones in that time, you know we had just come out of the bag phone era and it was interesting. And what they did is – I ran the research program, we did 45 pieces of research; everything from very small project all the way up to full scale pilots. We built 20 smart connected kitchens in Boston; we developed one of the first mobile worker hotspots in a mall in Antonio, Taxes. We did some extraordinary work and we realized a lot of interesting things to the work that we did. That organization basically seized to exit after about six years at that point in time. Most of the companies that were involved were internalizing information that they had learnt from the organization and started to bring forward new products and new ideas around the connected home and mobility and it was probably one of the most fruitful experience that I ever had, and what was interesting about that is that led to the founding of POCO Labs, which is my company; and my partner in this is Tom Pavlak and we are two very, very different verbs. Tom is our designer by degree, yet thinks critically like an engineer about kind of the end products and how he makes those things become real in the end, and my view is more kind of leaning towards the empathetic side of the consumer research side. But we share the same passion I think for finding out what’s next for our customers and for consumers and what was interesting for us is that as we started to move forward, the companies that were part of the Internet Home Alliance became customers of POCO Lab and we worked on some extraordinary projects with Microsoft and the Xbox and Xbox 1. We were the first consumer research product development company to ever do consumer testing for Hollow Lens, which is the augmented reality glasses that Microsoft has developed which are phenomenal and interesting into the application capabilities, all at the same time. We worked with direct energy, we worked with Disney and Intel on high speed entertainment, customized, personalized entertainment delivery in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have been part of kind of the cutting edge with many of our clients, in the identification and understanding what the real consumer facing value propositions are around the applications of technology to conceal with their lives. And we have been blessed in that way and I will tell you that this evolution has been very interesting for us, because being as old as we are, being there at the beginning of the connected home and how that evolved and how it actually profited a lot of people. What was really interesting to us is about two years ago we worked on a project for a company called Spartan Motors. They were a client of ours and if you are not familiar with Spartan Motors and you might not be, they are a company located in Charlotte, Michigan. They make Spartan fire trucks; they make Utilimaster vans for like people like UPS and FedEx and things like that and make food trucks. And they brought us in and they said we want to hire you to do this project and the project was focused on kind of the future of fire fighters. And one of the things that came out of that, one that I could talk about, because they let us talk about it is an autonomous drone and the reason we came up with an autonomous drone for fire fighting, because quite frankly it had addressed so many different concerns that large municipalities were fighting against related to the model and the money that they had spent on fighting fires and maintaining a large fleet of fire trucks and that sort of thing. And our good friend there said, so we don’t know anything at this point in time about autonomy, can you go find out things for us. So we did, we started digging, what was going on; and as you know David this area around the time had exploded in the last 24 months. I mean the refocus of an entire industry and ecosystem has been stunning to say at the least, but back 24 months ago, not that long ago, what we realized is that a lot of companies were doing things because they were quite frankly capability of doing them, right. The technologies existed to develop an autonomous vehicle. Google had proven that, Delphi all these others were kind of sticking their feet into it, throwing things against the wall and doing some wonderful kind of proof points that would show up at places like the consumer electronics show in Vegas. And Tom and I are sitting in one of our meeting rooms one day after the conclusion of the Spartan Motors and we were talking about the economy and we were talking constraints and opportunities and benefits, concerns and everything else that you would typically go through, and I looked at Tom and I said, I swear to God I’ve seen this before. I feel like I’m going through a rinse and repeat exercise and quite frankly, although much more defying this time, this ecosystem is being defined for us in so many different ways; it was very similar to what we saw early on in connectivity and the smart home and mobility. People were doing thing because they could, not necessarily because anyone wanted them, but because they could technically pull them off and the reason, the sole purpose for the Internet Home Alliance, why this story is going on so long is that we were an organization that was going to focus not on the technical capabilities of doing connectivity, right. We weren’t going to focus on doing tools, we’ve weren’t going to focus on Wi-Fi, although we leveraged those tools in what we did in pilots and things like that. What we focused on is identifying the consumer and customization and value propositions around connectivity itself and that’s where we saw an opportunity with autonomy. People were doing all of the technical things right that needed to happen, they were in development, they were refining LiDAR, they were doing all the things that they should be doing as engineers and technologists and software people. But what – it was happening very limitedly. It was infact a focus on what was going to be the consumer facing value proposition around the economy? What were going to be the customer facing value propositions for people who were going to produce autonomous vehicles? So we decided at that point to do something similar to the IHA. We formed a Cyber 126 non-profit which is a professional alliance of industry people in the same ecosystem or in a developing ecosystem that are going to do collaborative research together and share that information amongst the memberships, and start to move an entire ecosystem, entire market. And by doing this collaboratively, because it’s such an embryonic state to be in with a company that we kind of all both wise, right faster and better and more informed by collaborating together and doing research and that’s what we have done.
Dave Kruse: Got you, okay. Interesting and so with POCO Labs, what year did you start that?
Tim Woods: POCO Labs started, God – first thing was we had one iteration of it and then I would say in essence POCO Labs started in 2001.
Dave Kruse: And what was one of your projects that you kind of learned the most from in doing POCO Labs?
Tim Woods: I would say what was most probably one of the more interesting projects, well there – God, there was so many. I will tell you that …
Dave Kruse: Or before we start to answer that question, I want you to answer a question before that. So what was – I mean it sounds like you do some cool stuff. So you would go to a company and say, ‘hey, you have some interesting technology and innovations like – well that’s helped kind of – or maybe they are looking for technology and you kind of figure out how to position them and how they are going to interact with the consumers?
Tim Woods: We’ve done it both ways.
Dave Kruse: Okay.
Tim Woods: Yep we’ve done it both ways and sometimes they are trying to identify new opportunities for a company that’s been doing the same thing for the last 100 years or they have a technology that’s in development that they want to leverage and apply it to a solution for consumers or quite frankly they need help identifying a technology that will kind of take them to the next level. So we’ve worked in all three areas for our customers.
Dave Kruse: Interesting, okay all right. So now back to the project question. If you can think of one or two and take us through kind of your mindset, like how you approach a project that’s you have a special interest in.
Tim Woods: Sure. So you know, I will tell this from any project that we worked on, whether it was on energy as a managed service, some work that we did for a direct energy years ago or what we did for Xbox 1, which was non-gaming applications for that platform, that gaming system. We typically always start with kind of working with the people internally at those organizations, because just to be frank and just to be brutally honest about all of this; if you don’t get buy-ins from the companies or the people who are going to actually implement the solutions or the opportunities that you’ve identified through the project that they paid for right, they spoke or introduced to them, if you don’t get the buying across the board inside of that organization, your opportunities around success diminish greatly, right for implementation in the back end. So we typically will go in and we will do what we call like a level setting. We will understand where the frustrations they’ve had in the past with other projects that they try to attempt or they’ve tried to bring in innovation to the organization, will identify a key stake holders, will talk with them about things that they are trying to accomplish now and what they want to accomplish in the future and we’ll do this level set, right to get kind of everyone one onboard with the process that we are about to take them to do, and that process is quite frankly informed by their customers or their potential customers; and when I say potential customers, I mean if they are moving into a new direction, if they moving into a new ecosystem as a company, they have to understand who those new customers are and how they may be very different from their existing customers. So we kind of set the stage for them, we talk about the methodology that we are going to use and then we kind dive in and typically in what POCO Labs does is, we are very strong believers, in-depth qualitative research and what I mean by that is you probably heard many times before the term stenography, you probably heard of Delphi interviews, you’ve probably heard of focus groups and one-on-ones and all of those things and you basically leverage all of those tools. We do observational research, we look at how consumers are using or what situations they are in that these potential new products or services could be used.
Dave Kruse: Can you give an example or unless it’s confidential, but like kind of a use case with a client?
Tim Woods: Sure. We did a project several years ago and it was with – this is interesting because this is also very unique to POCO Labs. We bring – if it’s a new opportunity that we are trying to identify, we’ll bring together five companies that typically you would never consider working together with each and in this instance it was a family focused approach to healthy living and weight management and we had brought in a food company, we brought in a technology company, we brought in a media company, yeah and they all basically sat at the table and all of them quite frankly had the same concerns. But they were all coming in and they were all looking for similar opportunities, but they were all coming at it from very, very different perspectives if you can imagine. So we sat down and we talked to them and we talked about you know where things are today and where they could be in the future, how we could leverage technologies and things like that and then we actually went into peoples’ homes, we went through their cabinets, we watched them prepare meals, we sat down with the entire family and we started talking about very sensitive issues about feeding habits and about weight management, and what does it mean and as you can probably will imagine, a tremendous amount of emotion wrapped up in this subject, particularly when you start to talk about obesity, when you talk about the level of failure for children in a home with obese parents, their success rate of not being obese as they grow older is very low and the amount of unbelievable guilt that parents feel, right and feel although they have the knowledge and they know what’s right from wrong, have a very difficult time breaking free of those habits. So we did both in kind of facility we call it right, a typical research facility, we did interviews with families and then we did a stenography where we went into their homes and it was extraordinarily interesting and very I believe rewarding in the end of how that information was used for writing articles for focusing on food manufacturing as a use of technology to provide feedback loops for data to consumers on other progress and what they were doing and this was pretty fit that this was pretty all of that kind of stuff. So that was one, let’s say I think one of the great examples of how kind of we approach these ecosystem opportunities and its really going in deep with consumers. You can – what we know is you know typically we would tell any of our customers, listen if you are going to do quantitative research that’s great, but we need to do in-depth qualitative research first. You need to understand why people are answering the question there are and the surveys that you put in that, because if you don’t, you’re wholesale missing potentially huge opportunities.
Dave Kruse: Okay. Can you give an example of something that, I know this might all be confidential that you have picked up, but I don’t know if you can think of one or if you can even mention it, but if you can’t that’s okay, I have to ask.
Tim Woods: You know, it’s a very valid question. You know it’s quite funny because we come across them all the time and we don’t – it’s kind of to us we don’t think of them necessarily as groundbreaking now, because…
Dave Kruse: Yeah, that’s right.
Tim Woods: You know what I mean, but I’ll give you a very recent example, a very, very recent example. So the Autonomous Vehicle Alliance has just completed two major studies. One was global consumer perceptions towards autonomy, which I can example what that means as we move forward and the other one was called Linked Needs Assessment or Fleet Ecosystem Needs Assessment Research and what that was looking at was kind of a very broad approach to how goods and services get to people, right; how delivery trucks are used, how that experienced work trucks are used, right and there is kind of a – there was an initial upfront assumption by a lot of different people that when you built a delivery vehicle you were taking humans out of it, right. You were removing them, so in that circumstance and you were thereby removing costs and streamlining the approach, right. But what we realized through the course of research and this research is actually conducted by my business partner Tom Pavlak, is that the last thing you potentially want to do in the autonomous application around Fleet Vehicles or delivery is remove the individual, and that became through kind of or comes through our conversations and our observations through the research we did, because what people were not getting and this is where you kind of get to the solution side, where people who can do things because they have the technical knowhow, making an assumption that this is going to be better than how it is today, and it’s not necessarily always the case. So removing the driver from the delivery scenario is not 100% by any such imagination the appropriate solution for a delivery company or for consumers, because what you are doing in many cases is you are transferring the burden onto the customer, because think about it now in major metropolitan areas. Packages get delivered to the physical desktop of the individual who is receiving that letter or package or document or whatever, right and that driver negotiates elevators and starts, when they are delivering food and they are negotiating back hallways and freight elevators. They are bringing pallets and everything else into the buildings for these customers right. Removing that individual places that burden onto the customer, but what you will find is that the companies themselves would tell you that that individual is quite frankly a huge portion of the revenue equation for these companies, right. Because they develop the relationships with the customers, they create new business opportunities, they become a part of the fabric of these communalities, and what autonomy can do though is make these people super efficient right, with their times. They can do paper work that they would typically be setting aside at the end of the day, an hour, where an hour and a half of paper work can be done in the vehicle while the vehicle is taking them from point A to point B. So that’s a very current example of you find this stuff out because you do widen drivers, because you get out into their world, the customers world and you understand what is needed and what’s not needed and where the opportunities actually exist.
Dave Kruse: Interesting. All right, and so I want to get into the Autonomous Vehicle Alliance, but before we do, one last question kind of around POCO Labs is where do you see a lot of projects fail? I mean you talk a lot about doing the research and kind of talking through use cases. Do you think the companies do not do enough of that or are they asking the wrong questions, were they doing too much quantitative work, not enough qualitative. It’s probably a mix of everything, but…
Tim Woods: Sometimes we have worked with companies who have done all this, that actually do the process in reverse, which is they think they’ve identified an opportunity because they do a massive quant study and then they go to approve it in qualitative and it doesn’t bare itself up, because they have missed the mark right. They may get there, but its more painful to get there right and I think what quite frankly is, when we had the economic downturn that we did, a lot of very talented people inside of some big organizations were let go or moved on to different places. They quite frankly had kind of instilled in the organization this idea of how we were going to innovate, how we were going to move forward, what tools, what methodologies were we going to use and quite frankly more importantly, how were we going to spread those learnings through the organization and I think companies are getting back to that now. But for a while there it was very dark and there wasn’t a lot of innovation going on because of the economic downturn that we went through several years ago. So I think that’s coming back and I am very pleased to see that and its interesting because you know you – as old as I am, I’ve seen so many things come and go. So many different acronyms and terms used for some very basic tools that have always stood the test of time. So quite frankly, it really gets down to the subtleties of who is doing the work for you and are they good and are they efficient at doing it, are they good communicators, both internally and with your consumers that they are talking too and those are just key things that anybody should be looking at moving forward, its innovate and creating new products and servers.
Dave Kruse: Got you, okay, all right. So yeah, let’s talk about the Autonomous Vehicle Alliance, which is quite appropriate for this day and age, and is that one of the main things POCO Labs is working on now? Is that one of your main focus areas, is autonomous vehicles?
Tim Woods: Its certainly one of our areas of focus. We are still working on other projects, but it’s a big animal and its interesting because you know our board is made up – currently our board is made up of General Motors, Ford Motor Company, All State Insurance, Cox Automotive out of Atlanta and FCA Chrysler who are quite frankly our newest board member and we started basically May of last year is when we kicked off the organization. So they are our board, they are on our board big, big behimous companies, right, who all have a different, very different lenses that they looking though; very similar in the sense of what they are trying to accomplish except a few ends when you take into your Cox Automotives and All State here have different perspectives on the world, right.
And then we have people below them contributing numbers, not on the board, but are still very vital to the organization. Magna International, Spartan Motors who I referred to very early on, who is our fire engine and utility investor customer and then Taubman, which a lot of people don’t know who Taubman is. They are traded on the New York Stock Exchange. They are one the largest luxury mall developers in the U.S.
Dave Kruse: Oh yeah! I’m surprised. That’s cool.
Tim Woods: And its always a surprise to everybody, but when you think about, when you think about the business, is it providing these environments for retailers right; when you think about how they have probably owned more parking spaces and I could say this about Simon or WestField or anyone else in that space towards mall developing companies. But they own more parking spaces than they do retail space. There is more dedicated space to parking than there is to retail. When you start to think about their business as a whole, you understand their need to understand what an autonomous vehicle is going to do to the business in the next 10, 15 years, because they are making some big bets on where they are going to be placing their infrastructure right in the years to come, so – and they are great partners working with the OEMs and working with everyone else at the alliance and we are quite frankly as we always are, is looking for new members to join the organization, because quite frankly the more and different perspectives, like Taubman’s, like All States, like Cox Automotives and Magna, the more you bring into an organization like this, the more robust it becomes and the more and better informed it becomes for everyone in the ecosystem that’s developing around the economy.
Dave Kruse: So how did you, because you guys started this right, essentially. So how did you go about starting it and come up with the idea where you are talking to one of these companies and they are like ‘Oh! You know it would be nice to have more ideas kind of around the consumers perspective’ and you would, yeah.
Tim Woods: You know we started with people that we knew obviously who didn’t think, weren’t going to think we were crazy and we went in and just had some very frank, down to earth conversations within them. We were talking about how this ecosystem around the autonomous vehicles is very embryonic at this point. It is right to do collaboration.
In fact what’s really interesting about this is, about two years ago, 2.5 years ago BCG, a Boston Consulting Group did a major paper. It’s one of the first papers that was ever done on autonomy, autonomous vehicles and one of the things that came out of that, the back end of that piece of research was the industry is going to have to collaborate. If this is going to happen, major players are going to have to collaborate with each other early on to make autonomy real and meaningful to consumers and that was one of the things that we believe wholeheartedly. So when we started the conversation and we were talking with our friends at General Motors and Ford and others, we were basically sharing with them that this is the right time to be doing this. This is the right time to sit down and start talking about autonomy, but in a much bigger way, that it wasn’t necessarily just about the vehicles and how we were going to make them run, but what were the vehicles going to do to change child consumers with their lives and I’ll be honest with you, after having so many of these conversations up to this point of time, I will tell you that I honestly don’t believe consumers have an understanding or they couldn’t quite frankly have an understanding of how much their world was going to change in the next 10 to 20 years.
Dave Kruse: Really?
Tim Woods: And I believe that…
Dave Kruse: Dive into that a little bit more.
Tim Woods: Sure. Well, you know it’s interesting when you think about you know – people always point, always point to the iPhone and Apple coming out with the iPhone. I mean me talk about how we communicate with individuals, how we network socially. Quite frankly I would take pictures right. We broadcast to the world where we are, who we are with and what we are eating, right and the amount of computing power, the amount of access that we have to commuting point in our hands has been a sea change in how we communicate and how we network and how we make decisions on a day to day level. What’s really interesting about vehicles when you think about it is they play such a huge important and vital role, but when you start to think about a vehicle that can drive itself, so many things become opportunities. So many things start to change and how we start to process and how we value where we are going and how we are getting there and what we are doing and I think that that is going to be a very, very interesting.
Dave Kruse: Example?
Tim Woods: I’ll give you a fun one; I’ll give you the fun example. So there has been talk about, this has been what we have talked about. So let’s say you decide that we want to own an autonomous vehicle, right and I’m going to talk about levels four, levels five autonomous vehicle, so these are fully autonomous vehicles right, and quite frankly they don’t even have to have a human being sitting in them, right, this is level four and it can go from place to place right. So what’s really interesting about that whole scenario when you think about it is there is a consumer who may own a vehicle right and there will be all different kinds of ownership models when autonomous vehicles come into fruition and light and they become part of the, they become greater – a bigger part right than the smaller part of the ecosystem right. When you own an autonomous vehicle, what could that autonomous vehicle do for you when you maybe sitting at work, right, because autonomous vehicle in essence can take you from door to door. It can take you from your garage or from the front door of your apartment or town house of home right, and it can deliver you to the door of your play at work, that would be 20, 30, 40 minutes ways, right. But what could that car do for you? How could that car be more productive for you when you are not even using it, because right now as we know it cars sit in parking lots for anywhere from eight to 10 hours or more per day, right. Think about it sitting in your garage over night, think about it sitting in the parking lot at work, its way more than eight to ten hours right, but in many cases they are sitting idle. So could you send that car to go pick up groceries, could that car go pick up your dry cleaning? Could that car be lent out to people like UTS and FedFex and the United Postal Service and you just give access to them or Uber or Neft or anyone else and that car starts to generate money for you, it starts paying for itself, when you are sitting working. So it’s a very different way of thinking about autonomy right. And it’s about – sometimes it’s meaningless to say to certain people, okay what’s the killer app right, what’s the used case that we are going for. But when you start to interpret it that way, when you start to actually show consumers what an autonomous vehicle could do and how they can interact with it, it becomes way more meaningful and quite frankly, the level of fear and mistrust starts to diminish, because the value proposition becomes great than those fears of that distress. So that kind of, it’s just one example of a different way to look at it, right, that car becomes a revenue source for you when you are working, when you are not using that car.
Dave Kruse: So we only have a few more minutes left, so I got a few more questions, so we’ll have to go a little more rapid fire here.
Tim Woods: Sure.
Dave Kruse: If that’s, but – because there is definitely different questions I have for you and let’s see how – oh yeah, so I was curious, how do you facility discussion? How do you know what to talk about and make sure that you know everyone’s needs are being addressed and I know this is a hard rapid fire question, but…
Tim Woods: And I’ll do it as simple as possible. Our job has sometimes been described as hurting task.
Dave Kruse: All right, that sounds good.
Tim Woods: Because you have so many different opportunities coming to the table, but quite frankly that’s where the strength lies, given all those different opinions, because everybody is coming at the same subject matter from a different perspective whether on retail or I make the vehicles or I insure the vehicles or whatever, right. So that’s where the strength of this organization exists, is in the different opinions and what we do is we navigate through those to really get to the answer that each one of our members is looking for right and its quite frankly not as hard as you think, it’s just that we have been doing it longer than most people.
Dave Kruse: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Tim Woods: And we know how to facilitate those conversations and to be able to get people to that point where they are getting the value out of the discussion, right, they are getting the value out of the participation and the collaboration.
Dave Kruse: Okay.
Tim Woods: Yeah.
Dave Kruse: And next question is, so I’m super pumped for autonomous cars, because I never need to drive again in my opinion. But I also have people who are like my age who are like – I see most of my friends are kind of in the same boat as me, but there is definitely people who are like, I like driving, like I don’t want to ride around. You know what have you found from a consumer, I don’t know what type of studies you have done, but have you – like are people excited for this or are there a lot of people who are very weary or…?
Tim Woods: You know what, we did this longitudinal global study and we went to the U.S., we went to Germany, we went to China, we went to Brazil and opinions vary over the course, over globe right. But what’s really interesting is that perceptions in China and Brazil are very positive as compared to Germany and quite frankly more positive than the U.S. But that’s kind of our stretch and the reason when you think about it, when you step back from it and you look at how these consumers are living their lives, if you are looking at China you have massive dense urban populations and we’ve all seen the studies and we’ve all watched the video of the Chinese sitting in hours and hours of gridlock, right. They see this as helping to alleviate that or at least if I’m going to be in that, I don’t have to pay attention. I can be more productive in the vehicle, right, I can get other things done if that vehicle is autonomous right and so if it’s varying right now, but it’s very embryonic. But what I’ll tell you is that in general people are either neutral or more positive, but here is the key take away from this first piece of research that we did. And it’s a massive opportunity for education, massive opportunity to educate the consumers worldwide on what an autonomous vehicle is, how it operates and what it could do in their lives, because what we did and we made a conscious decision to do this, the membership did, is that when the survey starts, the quantitative portion of the survey starts, it is what we called unaided and aided. In other words we asked them several questions about trust and leadership and what do they think of autonomous vehicles and benefits and concerns that’s unaided. In other words they are going into it with just the knowledge they have today, right; just what they walked in the room with. Then we give them an aided description. In other words we tell them the definition of what an autonomous vehicle is and give them a rough idea about what it can do. The minute we do that, the positiveness increases, right. Their view on solutions and what we are talking about is enhanced, because they are educated. And that is one of the key things moving forward with the study, because the study is going to be done globally every six months; it’s a longitudinal study and we are going to be tracking how these perceptions are changing. As you know, every time you pick up the paper or turn the TV on, there is another story about autonomous vehicles right. So what we want to do is track those changes, we want to track the concerns, we want to track the perceived benefits, but what we realized just in this pilot study is there is a massive opportunity for education.
Dave Kruse: Interesting.
Tim Woods: And quite frankly no one owns that story right now, no one.
Dave Kruse: No, you’re right, wow! Interesting, okay and have you guys thought much about how cars will be designed in the future. I know that’s maybe more in the technology, but I know like they don’t have a steering wheel. But have you thought about more like – what about motion sickness and stuff and people are like facing all over the place and…
Tim Woods: Oh yeah! We’ve got…There is a lot of people who are talking about, if we all sit at the table I have to be sitting at the table.
Dave Kruse: Exactly right.
Tim Woods: Kind of like taking the booth in the restaurant. You have to have your back in the corner. But yeah, and all of these things are going to be – we are working on it. I can’t tell you exactly what they are doing inside of my OEM members, but I will tell you that they are all looking at it and they are all working on it and quite frankly if you just went to CES there was several examples. FCA has one of them, of what an interior of an autonomous vehicle could be like.
Dave Kruse: Interesting. And so, you have like a purpose, you have a perfect membership to discuss this and I guess we’ve touched on probably a part of it. But you know what other services around self driving do you see being developed? Like the whole – because you talk a lot about kind of the – they have the – well kind of the mobility. It’s like you are not going to own a car and like it just seems very fluid, but what else is going to be…
Tim Woods: Here is one that I’ll through out to you and your audience to think about, right. And this is you know we – there is a lot that I can’t talk you about today on the phone, but I’ll through this one out to you, which is in a world where you got high utilization of what we gave now and that is the opportunity around autonomous vehicles, right, particularly in a share vehicle scenario right, like a pay-per-use model, right. What’s really interesting about that is that those cars are going to be running a lot, right. So who is going to take care of those cars? Where are they going to go? There’s opportunities there. There are – I believe there are some big opportunities there in the sense of maintenance and what do they look like and how do we keep them ready for the road and you know that sort of thing. No answers, but it’s going to be interesting. High utilization brings a whole set of concerns and opportunities.
Dave Kruse: Yeah, no your right. It’s going to be a huge amount of maintenance compared to a normal car now.
Tim Woods: Well, you know and here is the other part about that, which is you know are they going to be internal combustion, are they going to be all electric, are they going to be hydrogen compulsion. You know those are big questions and we’re about to try that, that’s something to be worked on, but I think that there’s some consumer perceptions out there that these vehicles are not necessarily going to be powered the same way that our vehicles of today are.
Dave Kruse: No, okay. Interesting, all right so one more question and this is more just because – I don’t know, you’re not going to know the answer, because no one does, but your kind of in the middle of this, so I have to ask and I had this CEO of nuTonomy on here, so I asked him the same question and so you know I’m curious if you had to guess, when’s going to – and I’m curious based on kind of the experience too with the home connected alliance. Like that took a while to like come to fruition. So I’m curious here you know, well how soon will we build the sea in one city, a level five kind of autonomy service. Like I know they are doing trials now, but like an actual service where you just – how soon do you think we’ll see something like that?
Tim Woods: You know, let me process this. If you would have asked me that question 24 months ago, my answer would have been completely different. If you had asked it to me 12 months ago, it would have been different from the 24 months and now that you’re asking me this today, I will tell you that and this has nothing to do with my numbers or the AVA or views thereof, but if you’re asking me personally Tim Woods, what do I think, I believe we are going to see a service in a dense urban city in three years and it could, although trialing, could happen sooner. But I believe we are going to see a service in three years and it would be in a very defined, geo-fenced area. But it will – I believe it will be personal, I believe it will happen and I believe that is when we’re going to see changes in consumer – that is where we’re going to see the base changes in consumer perceptions for its autonomous area.
Dave Kruse: Interesting. Oh man! I can’t wait and actually that’s a pretty well educated opinion, because the CEO of nuTonomy gave pretty much the same answer. So that has not been released yet, so you have not heard that. So that was – you said exactly the same thing almost. It was just maybe more like three or four, but he said in the dense area of defined and yeah, that’s awesome. All right, well good. I am holding both you guys to it now, because if I don’t see it – I’ll fly out to wherever that is and participate.
Tim Woods: Okay, that’s a deal. I’ll meet you.
Dave Kruse: Oh man! Well Tim, this has been awesome. So I think it’s a good way to end and I really appreciate your time and your thoughts and you’ve done a lot of interesting stuff. I could probably talk about one project with you for like three hours, but no…
Tim Woods: Well, that would be fun and if you want to do that in the future, I’d love to.
Dave Kruse: Yeah, that could be interesting to dissect one project some day. But no, I definitely appreciate it. So thanks for coming on the show Tim.
Tim Woods: No problem. And just one real quick question Dave. Will you be able to send me a link?
Dave Kruse: Oh yeah! Yeah, yeah.
Tim Woods: Awesome! Awesome!
Dave Kruse: Yeah, so – and thanks everyone for listening to another episode of Flyover Labs. As always I greatly appreciate it and we’ll see you next time. Thanks Tim.
Tim Woods: Take care.
Dave Kruse: Bye.
Tim Woods: Bye-bye.