Want A Ride In A 3D-Printed Autonomous Shuttle?

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The future of retail: part one
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I’m posting this just as our New Tech & Innovation Forum in Boston gets underway. Hundreds of attendees from client organizations, startups, and event sponsors are gathering for a day-and-a-half of content about emerging technologies. Quantum computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain . . . it’s all here. I look forward to some great discussions about how these technologies will transform businesses in the years to come.

Leading up to this event, we’ve just published two new pieces of research on seemingly disparate technology markets:

  1. Self-driving cars: “New Tech: Autonomous Vehicles, Q3 2018“
  2. 3D printing: “New Tech: 3D Printing, Q3 2018“

Last year, my colleague Laura Koetzle and I published a far-reaching piece on the global economic shifts that will occur thanks to autonomous transport over the next two decades. In this newest report, I take a closer look at 24 companies that are breaking down barriers today and enabling the transformation we foresee in our not-so-distant future.

Now let me explain the second report on the 3D printing market. To be more precise, this report is about additive manufacturing — the creation of physical products that are digitally designed with software and fabricated by 3D printing hardware. These aren’t the 3D printers your kids are using in high school or the one you may have bought for your tech-savvy home office. The 3D printers used in additive manufacturing enable companies such as Adidas, Boeing, and GE to print commercially viable products at scale from various materials including polymers and metals. There’s a new crop of well-funded startups leveraging the latest advances in materials science, generative design software, and 3D printing hardware to digitally transform how the products we use every day are made.

That leads me to a final point: What happens when two or more emerging technologies converge? Meet Olli, the 3D-printed, driverless shuttle from Local Motors. Olli is printed in approximately 10 hours — about the time it takes my teenage sons to get their version of a good night’s sleep.

Want A Ride In A 3D-Printed Autonomous Shuttle?

While 3D printing is helping the autonomous vehicle (AV) industry replace traditional trolleys with “Ollis,” AVs are returning the favor. Engineers and designers at University College London and the University of Leeds are pioneering an initiative to outfit autonomous vehicles with 3D printers to scan, detect, and fix cracks in roads before they become potholes. (Take a hint, Boston!)

These are early examples of a phenomenon we call “exponential tech” at Forrester. And it’s no coincidence that this is the theme of our event this week. Our research shows that the most innovative companies are finding that explosive growth potential lies not in exploiting any one technology alone but in the unique combination of two or more to create new tools, new platforms, and new products and services.

I hope you’ll be joining us for an exclusive look ahead at this emerging field of exponential tech and how it will shape the digital enterprise in 2019. Learn where to place your bets and how to leverage these technologies to drive customer-obsessed innovation at scale. And if you’re planning to attend, stop by the Forrester hub to say “hi.”

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