As it does with all trending topics, SXSW is constantly expanding opportunities to discuss and ponder the future of transportation with panels and conversations both fanciful and practical. (The event is also an occasion for some companies to road-test their newfangled gadgets—let’s not forget the great scooter drop of 2018—or to hype their futuristic, usually pricey visions—Elon Musk pop-ups, same year).
SXSW 2019’s take on the subject includes the far-fetched (lots of flying things and robotic navigation are in the mix) and expansive, focused on currently available technology (scooters!) as well as such overlooked subjects as rural networks and product delivery. On the other hand, the focus in the panels below is mostly on variations of the good, old-fashioned car.
10 panels on the future of transportation
Transportation and Delivery Technology session at SXSW Pitch
Saturday, March 9, 9:30 a.m., Hilton Austin Downtown
Startups pitch transportation products related to such areas as the connected car, data routing applications, on-demand or ridesharing services, autonomous vehicles, logistics, delivery, and other new means. The pitches will by judged by Reilly Brennan (Trucks Venture Capital), Laura Yao (EQT Ventures), and Santiago Zavala (500 Startups).
Delivery 2.0: The CaiNiao Smart Logistics Network
Friday, March 8, 12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m., JW Marriott Salon 5
While this looks to be a case study in how Chinese e-commerce/tech company Alibaba created a logistics network for package delivery, it also promises to “create a better experience and to avoid the damage to the environment caused by traditional delivery systems.”
Detroit: Adoption of First Self-Driving Shuttle
Saturday, March 9, 3:30 p.m.– 4:30 p.m., The Refinery
Lessons on the infrastructure and implementation plan for the smooth integration of the shuttles into daily life in Motor City.
The Promise and Perils of New Space
Sunday, March 10, 5:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m., Hilton Austin Downtown
Firefly Aerospace CEO Tom Markusic discusses “New Space”: a “private, commercial approach to increasing access to and utilization of space,” according to the panel description.
Featured Session: Travis VanderZanden and Josh Rasmussen
Monday, March 11, 3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
Without debating whether or not the sudden presence of e-scooters in our lives does, in fact, constitute a revolution, the founder and CEO of Bird is interviewed by the CEO of Monday Motorbikes about the possibilities of its permanence.
Air-Levitation: A New Hyperloop Transport Method
Tuesday, March 12, 12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m., Hilton Austin Downtown Room 400-402
Texas Guadaloop’s Deborah Navarro, known for her work on Elon Musk’s Hyperloop, will speak to the company’s work developing the world’s first Hyperloop transport vehicle.
Up Next in Transportation: Flying Cars and Drones?
Tuesday, March 12, 3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m., La Condesa
Government transportation and tech reps will discuss “urban air mobility,” including advantages, challenges, and barriers.
Step Aside, Cities: Innovations in Rural Mobility
Tuesday, March 12, 5:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m., Courtyard Marriott Rio Grande Ballroom
Transportation officials and a Lyft policy manager look at the future of transportation in rural and tribal communities, tech-driven innovations that could help, and the role of federal role government in that arena.
Death to Roadways: Ending Traffic with Flying Cars
Wednesday, March 13, 11 a.m.-noon, Fairmont Manchester AB
NPR’s Aarti Shahani and NASA’s Jaiwon Shin will discuss the use of an “everyday air-based transportation system” for helping manage urban mobility.
Designing for Self Driving: A New Kind of Ride
Wednesday, March 13, 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m., JW Marriott Salon 5
Waymo’s Ryan Powell addresses design challenges and changes that come with the advent of self-driving cars.
Tired of the Self-Driving Car Rhetoric? Truck That
Wednesday, March 13, 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m., Hilton Austin Downtown Salon F
Carla Bailo from The Center for Automotive Research and The Wall Street Journal‘s Tim Higgins, and car-industry reps discuss why Google, Uber, Tesla, and other tech-transportation companies are looking at self-driving truck technology and why it could transform the future more significantly than self-driving cars.