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Event Report

Kazunori Yamauchi speaks at “Garage Talk,” hosted by the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS)

As one of the most highly-respected educational institutions in the world, Stanford University is consistently at the forefront of technology. Gran Turismo series creator Kazunori Yamauchi was invited to speak at the university's “Open Garage Talk” hosted periodically by CARS (Center for Automotive Research at Stanford), where he also spent time interacting with professors and students.

This intriguing seminar was started in 2012 by a wide variety of participants involving professors, students, Silicon Valley startup companies and car enthusiasts interested in the future of mobility. Since its inception, many notable figures have stood behind its podium, including Carlos Ghosn (Renault-Nissan Alliance Chairman and CEO), Chris Bangle (Former BMW Chief Designer and executive), and Ralph Gilles (Head of Design, FCA Global). Yamauchi's session was the 17th Open Garage Talk.

The two key persons of CARS: Executive Director Stephen Zoepf (far left) and Director and Professor of Mechanical Engineering Chris Gerdes (far right).
The two key persons of CARS: Executive Director Stephen Zoepf (far left) and Director and Professor of Mechanical Engineering Chris Gerdes (far right).

On March 2, Yamauchi was invited to Stanford University, located in Palo Alto, near Silicon Valley, by the Executive Director of CARS Stephen Zoepf and Director Professor Chris Gerdes. Zoepf, who hosts the Open Garage Talk, is also an engineer who has been involved in the automotive development for companies such as BMW and Ford. Gerdes is a professor of mechanical engineering specializing in vehicle dynamics and driving theory at the school. The presentation titled "How will drivers and driving influence the cars of the future" featured Yamauchi and Gerdes speaking to each other in an open format.

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

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

On hand were a variety of experimental cars created by the Stanford team, including a DeLorean modified into an EV, a solar car built for the Solar Car Challenge, and an assortment of unmanned experimental vehicles from auto companies that have partnered with CARS. One such car, the Audi TT, is able to drive autonomously on a race track at speed, while another, the Ford Fusion, can drift without a driver.

Unmanned test vehicles were on hand, including the Audi TT named “Shelly” (front), which can drive on a race track at speed. The Ford Fusion in the background can drift without a driver.
Unmanned test vehicles were on hand, including the Audi TT named “Shelly” (front), which can drive on a race track at speed. The Ford Fusion in the background can drift without a driver.

A discussion was held with the students where Yamauchi brought up a wide variety of topics, even touching upon American politics. He asked them “Can the American democracy somehow be augmented with technology, or can a totally different political system be imagined?”

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, where attendees of the seminar were able to enjoy the game firsthand. Yamauchi gave a presentation of the history of the connection between Gran Turismo, the automotive industry, and motorsports. He also touched upon future projects, such as the upcoming open AI Championships with an autonomous driving API currently being developed.

The presentation regarding “Gran Turismo" included upcoming AI Championships.

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” will be ever present throughout it all.