LeasePlan is always looking ahead to What’s next. And what better way to do that than to take the next generation of engineers and let them discover the next big ideas in technology, culture and entertainment?

Earlier this month, that’s exactly what we did. We took five Strategic Product Design students from the Delft University of Technology – the winners of our autonomous vehicle Hackathon in November –  to Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference and festival.

The halls of SXSW were bustling with innovators and entrepreneurs from all sorts of companies – and the automotive and mobility sectors were very well represented. Perhaps unsurprisingly, autonomous cars dominated many of our discussions.

Along with our Chief Digital Officer, Michel Alsemgeest, the students attended a session by Waymo, which is Google’s self-driving car division. Waymo’s CEO, John Krafcik, highlighted the rigorous tests that the company’s vehicles are undergoing to ensure that this amazing technology becomes a feature of our everyday lives.  

Here is some footage that one of the students, Dan-Stefan Florescu, captured during the Waymo session:

Another session saw Uber explain what they are doing with self-driving cars.  Michel even got the chance to interview Molly Nix, who leads the user experience design team at Uber:

Dan-Stefan also spoke to Brenna Berman, Executive Director of the City Tech Collaborative, about the need for governments and private organizations to work together to develop the mobility systems of the future:

So, what did we learn from SXSW 2018? 

According to Michel, the key lesson is that things are moving very quickly – and LeasePlan needs to keep up with What’s next. Digital technologies such as connected and autonomous cars are evolving at a remarkable pace and will have a big impact on the leasing industry. We can’t afford to be left behind.

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