@SXSW Automotive Round-up: VW ID.Buzz, Porsche, Audi Holoride, Einride & Smart Cities

Automotive, mobility and smart cities are featured during SXSW. In Austin for the events are Volkswagen, Audi, Holoride, Lucid’s Peter Rawlinson, Porsche, Assembly Ventures with Cintra,

VW Buzz

Volkswagen is sponsoring the event with “Buzz Stops” around Austin with VW ID.4 SUVs all over the city. VW  ambassadors  provide information, education and entertainment. It is also the US premier of the ID Buzz.

“South by Southwest’s commitment to innovation and technology, coupled with its access to culture and creativity makes it the perfect venue for the ID. Buzz to make its first-ever public appearance. We’re excited to bring the ID. Buzz to Austin and showcase the innovation packed into this newest member of our EV lineup,” said Scott Keogh, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America.

Seeing Porsche Unseen

At SXSW Porsche Unseen is giving the stage to ideas, who did not make it to production and still silently shaped our society. The display shows cars, music and designs that have never been seen before. There are also nightly DJ after parties.

Luxury EV maker Lucid’s CEO oand CTO Peter Rawlinson will be interviewed by Sam Abuelsamid on Thursday afternoon. Rawlinson will explain how Lucid Air, the 2022 MotorTrend Car of the Year, has the longest range and fastest charging luxury EV in the world. He’ll also explain what most other EV makers get wrong in their quest for mass produced vehicles, and why efficiency, in miles per kilowatt hour, is the most appropriate and valid measure of an EV company’s technological prowess.

Einride first Remote Pod Operator

Swedish freight technology company Einride announced today at SXSW the official introduction of the world’s first Remote Pod Operator, a role that has been fulfilled with the hiring of long-time trucking veteran Tiffany Heathcott. The position will shift how humans play a role in the increasing prioritization of autonomous vehicles in the freight industry, enabling a strong safety case that is scalable from day one for shippers looking to automate their shipping fleets.

The Remote Pod Operators will observe and support an Einride Pod that is operating in automated drive mode to ensure they run optimally and safely as they ship goods on behalf of Einride’s customers. Given the pods’ autonomous capabilities, the operators will not drive the vehicles but instead will be able to provide operational support to multiple pods at a time via their Automated Driving Systems, creating further efficiency that will ultimately allow for increased autonomy. In contrast to conventional trucking, remote operation will be safer, involve more regular hours, and provide a more hospitable work environment for operators.

“As we continue to scale our autonomous and electric solutions, we knew that we also needed to look at the jobs that are required to support safe and scalable implementation and we saw a market gap for this kind of role,” said Robert Falck, CEO and Founder at Einride. “We believe that going autonomous does not equate to losing the human element. We believe the opposite, that tech is stronger with the human element still in the loop and we are dedicated to creating a safer rollout of our autonomous and electric technology with this remote operation approach.”

In order to become a Remote Pod Operator at Einride, operators go through a full trainee program which is created and accredited by Einride personnel. The first of its kind process includes supervised training with the Einride Pod and Remote Pod Operation Station where operators are trained and tested on all the various operating modes and safety protocols. All U.S. Remote Pod Operators are also required to have an Active CDL license B class or above in addition to previous commercial driving experience.

“When I came across the opportunity to partner with Einride in this new role, I saw that this was one of the biggest steps I could play a part in in creating a better and more sustainable future for the next generation and the planet,” said Tiffany Heathcott, Remote Pod Operator at Einride. “Once other truck drivers are able to see what the remote approach to shipping can do for them, both on a professional and personal level, I’m confident that more and more will want to take part in creating lasting change.”

The team of Remote Operators has already expanded behind Heathcott and will continue to scale alongside growing autonomous operations Einride is providing customers both in the U.S. and in Sweden. Following the official U.S. expansion in November of 2021, Einride has opened up a regional office in Austin, with plans to officially establish a U.S. headquarters in New York. Regional offices in the Bay Area and Los Angeles will open later in 2022.

To learn more about Einride please visit https://www.einride.tec

Winning for Smart Cities & Transportation

The 14th annual SXSW Pitch announced winners.  For Smart Cities, Transportation & Logistics the winner is JusticeText takes depositions and evidence and turns them into text.

Smart Cities, Transportation & Logistics Finalists

4.screen,  Munich Germany-4.screen develops the digital infrastructure of connected cars. We provide an API-based infrastructure that enables local businesses and global brands to communicate in real-time with cars. Allowing drivers to enjoy frictionless access to the mobility ecosystem, to see relevant content, and to benefit from value-added services such as sponsored charging.

HeyCharge- Munich, Germany- HeyCharge delivers highly-scalable, ultra-low-cost electric car charging systems for apartment buildings and more. Their core innovation is a patent-pending system enabling smart charging infrastructure with no internet connection — perfect for underground parking garages!

Glaza, Los Angeles, CA, Glaza’s software uses the front-facing camera of a device to track where the driver is looking on the screen. When the driver blinks, it registers that as a tap. Eyesight is a natural “cursor” so the software gets rid of the need to use the driver’s fingers and allows the driver to interact with the car’s infotainment system hands-free.

JusticeText, Irvine, CA,JusticeText is building the first centralized infrastructure to store, catalog, analyze, and share video evidence in the criminal justice system. The platform is explicitly designed to improve outcomes for low-income criminal defendants by enabling greater transparency and accountability around police interactions.

Kiro Action,  Austin, TX Kiro Action, a modern refuge that is deployed in 4-hours by 4 people with no special machinery or heavy equipment built to the code of commercial and home applications. The same product can be a backyard office, yoga studio, flex room and shelter the unhoused. Scalable, flat-packed, cost effective and dignified housing.


HOPE Hydration, New York, NY-HOPE Hydration is a water-tech startup deploying smart-city water fountains, pushing cities towards plastic-free and powering next-gen urban technologies.

N5 Sensors,  Rockville, MD -N5’s mission is to keep people and communities safe from environmental hazards such as wildfires through a cloud-connected ecosystem of smarter sensors and by leveraging the endless possibilities of shared data and AI.

Vend Park, Boston, MA-Vend is an end-to-end SaaS management and digital wallet that is disrupting the mobility industry starting with parking. Vend replaces inefficient and expensive operations with a fully digital solution that lowers costs and unlocks the true value of parking real-estate.

Audi First for Connected Holorides

Audi is the first automobile manufacturer in the world to bring virtual-reality entertainment from holoride into series production. Beginning this summer, back seat passengers can put on virtual reality glasses (VR glasses) and immerse themselves in various media formats including games, films and interactive content. The main attraction: The virtual content adapts to the driving movements of the car in real time. Starting with select vehicles produced beginning in June 2022, Audi models with the latest upgrade of the modular infotainment toolkit (MIB 3) will be holoride-capable. The new technology will be introduced at the South by Southwest® (SXSW) festival in the U.S. Visitors at the festival will be able to experience holoride in a moving vehicle.

In the future, passengers will be able to use their time on the way from point A to point B for a thrilling game experience. From June 2022, passengers in the back seat of an Audi can experience films, video games and interactive content much more realistically using VR glasses. A car ride can become a multimodal gaming event.

The technology will be introduced at the South by Southwest® (SXSW) music, film and tech festival in Austin, Texas, and visitors will be able to take drives in the back seats of fully electric Audi vehicles. holoride is closely associated with South by Southwest, and won the prestigious SXSW Pitch 2021 in the category of -Entertainment, Gaming & Content- as well as the “Best in Show” award.

Holoride creates immersive experiences
Behind holoride there is a technology that adapts virtual content to the car’s driving movements in real time:

For example, if the car is taking a right turn, the spaceship in the imaginary world will also fly to the right. If the car accelerates, the spaceship speeds up too. Initiated by Audi, development of this innovative VR or XR (extended reality) technology is being advanced and commercialized for different manufacturers by the tech entertainment startup holoride.

With this approach, the Munich-based startup has established a completely new media category that they call “Elastic Content” – content that adapts to driving movements, journey time and driving route. The result is an immersive experience with a previously unknown level of quality.

From June, a large number of Audi models will be holoride-capable
From June, select models that roll off the line with the third generation modular infotainment toolkit (MIB 3) and the latest software cluster will be holoride-capable. This means: Audi A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, Audi Q5, Q7, Q8, Audi e-tron* and Audi e-tron GT quattro. From June, the Audi models mentioned will be capable of utilizing holoride in the European market, as well as in Canada, the United States, Japan and China. However, the availability of holoride itself will depend on the individual market. The new startup technology is expected to launch in Germany, the United Kingdom and the U.S. market. Other markets will follow successively.

To use holoride, a virtual reality headset that has been enabled for it must be connected with the vehicle. The connection is created wirelessly via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).

Holoride – already a colorful history
Holoride was first presented at CES 2019 (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. In cooperation with Disney Games and Interactive Experiences, holoride implemented a VR game experience from the Marvel Universe for cars. In addition to other activities and showcases, during a roadshow through California from Los Angeles to San Francisco in the summer of 2021, holoride visited other production and game studios to demonstrate the technology’s possibilities to potential partners. Visitors to IAA 2021 in Munich, under the fitting motto “Let’s talk about progress,” were among the first to take demo rides with holoride. Attendees of the Salzburg Festival were also able to enjoy holoride in the back seat of an Audi e-tron and experience time travel through the musical epochs of the City of Salzburg while searching for a young Mozart.

Assembly Ventures with Cintra

Assembly Intelligence, an affiliate of Assembly Ventures, announced today a new partnership with Cintra. Together the organizations will jointly focus on accelerating the development and deployment of technology-enabled transportation infrastructure. Through the agreement, Cintra, one of the largest private global developers and operators of transport-related infrastructure, will work with Assembly Intelligence to engage key sector leaders in critical dialogue around the future of technology transformation in vehicle connectivity, safety, and sustainability.

“Continuing to build transportation infrastructure the way we have for decades is a lost cause,” said Chris Thomas, Co-Founder & Partner of Assembly Intelligence. “The future of mobility will emerge around the next generation of infrastructure, systems, and applications. We are incredibly excited to kick off this partnership with Cintra both for their focus on the future of technology-enabled infrastructure as well as for the opportunity to work together alongside a firm with a truly global reach.”

“As the leading global developer and operator of highway infrastructure, we must build with an eye toward future innovation,” said Ricardo Sanchez, Global Head of Technical Services and Innovation at Cintra. “Collaborating with industry leaders is key to developing innovative mobility solutions that create a more connected, safer, and sustainable mobility for all. Industry partnerships are critical for sharing and exchanging knowledge, experiences, and ideas. Cintra is proud to announce our partnership with a visionary company like Assembly Intelligence and we look forward to working towards the common goal of improved mobility.”

He added, “Imagine improving fluidity, connectivity, and safety through smart highways, AVs, and other forms of transport, without the constant need for new roadway capacity. In that case, there are positive implications for wellbeing, the environment, taxes, and investment—and who doesn’t want that?”

In conjunction with the Cintra partnership announcement, Assembly also released “Mobility 4.0: Making Sense of a Sector in Transformation.” This white paper explores how transformation driven by connectivity and digitalization will enable transportation systems to evolve and integrate a greater variety of modes that optimize individual needs. Through a three-layered framework called “ISA” the paper examines how new connections between infrastructure, systems, and customer facing applications can bridge current physical and digital connections in transportation systems. A downloadable version of “Mobility 4.0” can be accessed here.

The partnership announcement was made as part of SXSW’s Global Smart Cities Round Table hosted at the Midwest House. Invited guests included corporate, startup, investment, and public sector representatives. Participants met to share current projects and collaboration best practices on the development of city technology platforms, innovative financing, the role and importance of data, and a growing access and inclusion in communities.

Outdoorsy outs Revenge Travel

At this year’s South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conference, Austin-based RV rental and outdoor experience marketplace, Outdoorsy, and the RV industry’s consumer-facing advertising arm, Go RVing, will share the stage on March 17 at the Hilton Austin Downtown to present their PanelPicker session, “Why Revenge Travel Is Here To Slay”.