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Event Report

Kazunori Yamauchi's “Open Garage Talk” Speech at the CARS (Center for Automotive Research at Stanford)

Stanford University is the famed institution located in the Silicon Valley, US, that continues to invoke a revolution in all fields of knowledge. Kazunori Yamauchi was invited to speak at their scholastic community’s “Open Garage Talk” hosted periodically by their CARS (Center for Automotive Research at Stanford) research group, and spent time with their professors and students.

This intriguing seminar format event began in 2012 with a wide variety of participants involving professors, students, Silicon Valley start-up companies and car enthusiasts interested in the future of mobility. In the past, famous players in the automotive world have stood at its podium, including big names such as Carlos Ghosn (Renault-Nissan Alliance Chairman and CEO), Chris Bangle (Former BMW Chief Designer and Executive), and Ralph Gilles (Head of Design, FCA Global) to name a few. Kazunori Yamauchi’s session would be the 17th Open Garage Talk.

The two key persons of CARS: Stephen Zoepf, Executive Director (on the left of Kazunori Yamauchi), and Chris Gerdes,  Director and Professor of Mechanical Engineering (on the right).
The two key persons of CARS: Stephen Zoepf, Executive Director (on the left of Kazunori Yamauchi), and Chris Gerdes, Director and Professor of Mechanical Engineering (on the right).

Kazunori Yamauchi visited Stanford University on 2nd March, greeted by many students as well as Stephen Zoepf and Professor Chris Gerdes. Stephen is CARS Executive Director and the host of the Open Garage Talks. He is also an engineer who has been involved in automotive development in companies such as BMW and Ford. Chris Gerdes is CARS Director and a Professor of Mechanical Engineering specialising in vehicle dynamics and driving theory. The topic of the seminar was “How will drivers and driving influence the cars of the future”, and Professor Gerdes carried the conversation with Kazunori Yamauchi during the talk.

Visiting the CARS garage. The experimental vehicle X1 built by Stanford students is in the front.

Current developments in autonomous driving were explained in the CARS garage.

The seminar started with an introduction of the Garage of CARS. A variety of experimental cars were present, including a DeLorean modified into an EV, a solar car built by the students for the Solar Car Challenge, and even unmanned experimental vehicles from auto companies partnered with CARS. The Audi TT is able to race by itself on a circuit at racing speed, and the Ford Fusion was incredibly apt at drifting on its own.

Unmanned test vehicles of automobile manufacturers partnered with CARS. The Audi TT in the front, named “Shelly”, is able to drive on its own on race circuits at racing speeds. The Ford Fusion in the background is able to drift perfectly without a driver.
Unmanned test vehicles of automobile manufacturers partnered with CARS. The Audi TT in the front, named “Shelly”, is able to drive on its own on race circuits at racing speeds. The Ford Fusion in the background is able to drift perfectly without a driver.

Later, a discussion was held with the students. The talk reached wider topics even covering America's democracy, with Kazunori Yamauchi posing an interesting question to the students: “Can the American democracy be somehow augmented with technology, or could a totally different political system be thought of?”

Kazunori Yamauchi having a discussion with Stanford students.
Kazunori Yamauchi having a discussion with Stanford students.

A racing seat with 'Gran Turismo Sport' was set up at the venue. While many of the visitors enjoyed the gameplay, Kazunori Yamauchi also gave a presentation of the history of the connection between Gran Turismo and the automotive industry, as well as motorsports. He also mentioned future undertakings, including an upcoming open AI Championship using an autonomous driving API currently being developed, calling out for participation from the students.

The presentation regarding 'Gran Turismo'. An upcoming AI Championships was also mentioned during the presentation.

A deep discussion was held with Professor Chris Gerdes (left) regarding the current revolutions in mobility.

The audience eagerly listens to the speakers.

Signing autographs on gift copies of Gran Turismo Sport.

While mobility is due to undergo a major revolution soon, this event restated the fact that 'Gran Turismo' is ready to be part of that future.