Lawrence D. Burns, Ph.D., addressed the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy 2012 Energy Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C., with a vision for a new era in automobiles.
Burns is vice chairman of the MRIGlobal board of directors and a member of the board of trustees. He is also former vice president of General Motors’ Research and Development and currently Professor of Engineering Practice at the University of Michigan, and Director, Sustainable Mobility at the Earth Institute, Columbia University,
In a kick-off session titled “Thinking Globally About Transportation” Burns recommended a holistic approach to transforming transportation.
“We need to be positioning the U.S. to be a world leader in self-driving, driver-less vehicles and get the mobility internet up and running,” he said.
“The automobile is unsustainable without transformational change,” said Burns. “There is a transformation opportunity surfacing. When we take the new DNA—electric drive, diverse energy sources, self-driving and driverless, connected and coordinated, vehicles with a specific purpose—we can put them all together to rethink the entire system.”
He added, “Our energy challenge is not due to a lack of resources or knowledge. By combining our abundant fossil and renewable energy resources with a broad portfolio of promising technology, an integrated system of opportunities surfaces that have the potential to excite consumers, reward investors, enable sustainable development.”
Burns is coauthor of “Reinventing the Automobile: Personal Urban Mobility for the 21st Century.”
The Energy Innovation Summit, which featured speakers including former President Bill Clinton and Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates, is designed to spur the development and deployment of the next generation of energy technologies. More than 2,500 people attended the conference, which featured a technology showcase and developer’s workshop, in addition to the main presentations on emerging technology innovations.
The Power of “And”: Transforming Mobility Systems (773kb pdf)