Tested self-driving taxi on study trip with Smart Energy Network

Since 2017, THEMA has been a sponsor of Smart Energy Network Norway (SEN), a network organization for actors in the energy sector. SEN organizes an annual trip to an innovative area, and this year’s destination was Silicon Valley. THEMA partner Ståle Johansen joined the trip, and he got to test a self-driving taxi and meet up with our colleague Lars, who currently lives in Berkeley.

Golden Gate

After a few years with a pandemic and travel restrictions, it was finally time for Smart Energy Network’s annual study trip. This year the destination was California. The program included a visit to Boeing in Seattle, where electrical air travel was on the agenda, and to the University of California, Berkeley, where the topics “Geo-Politics and the Energy Transition” and “Public policy and innovation in the Green energy transition” was on the agenda. Our colleague Lars is currently spending a year in California, and he was of course invited to attend the lectures.

The development of smart energy solutions is high on Smart Energy Network’s agenda. An example of smart energy solutions is self-driving, electric cars. Self-driving cars have long been a topic among the mobility interested, but now it has become a reality – at least if you find yourself in the centre of San Francisco between 22.00 and 06.00. This was exactly where Ståle and the rest of the Smart Energy Network delegation was in October this year. So, what is it like being a passenger in a driverless car?

The first few minutes were very exciting, my pulse was a little high, it was hard to believe that there is no one sitting in front and that the steering wheel moves by itself, Ståle says. After a while it seems a little more normal, the car does the job and drives like a normal driver, but maybe a little more carefully.

The service Ståle got to test is provided by the company Cruise, which has made driverless taxis available for testing for the company’s employees and their acquaintances. In 2016, General Motors became the main shareholder in Cruise, and is now planning to make the service available to the public. Their hypothesis is that in the long run, passengers will feel more secure in a robot taxi than in a manual taxi.

It was the innovation expert and smart mobility enthusiast Mario Herger who connected SEN with Cruise. You can read more news about self-driving cars on Mario’s blog (link below the post). Among other things, Mario has written the book “The Last Driver’s License Holder…Has Already Been Born”. Below you will also find links to Cruise and the Smart Energy Networks websites.

Thanks to Mario Herger, Cruise and Smart Energy Network who made it possible to try the service. It will be exciting to follow the development!

Ståle og Lars på Berkeley

Ståle and Lars

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