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Sprouting in Brussels with a bacon butty

15th October 2019
Joe Bush

Steve Rogerson looks at some of the news that may have missed the front page. My travels in the past month took me to the delightful city of Brussels for the AutoSens event. Visitors could not fail to notice that ON Semiconductor was the main sponsor, with the company’s logo all over the place. 

At least the firm’s Senior Director of Marketing Geoff Ballew saw the funny side of it as he opened his keynote speech. “Why am I here?” he said. “Well, sponsorship has its privileges.”

He followed an introduction by Ulla Engelmann, who heads the European Commission’s advanced technologies unit. She was not impressed looking over the audience. “The women are clearly in a huge minority here,” she said. “We need to do much more if we are going to get more women into this field.”

That view was echoed at this month’s Aesin conference near Birmingham where Alan Banks, CEO for show organiser Techworks, said: “What we are not very good at in this industry is diversity. If you look round this room, there are a lot of white males.”

He said Techworks was trying to do something about this and had set a women and minorities in technology working group. A start, but time will see how effective it is.

On the subject of the AutoSens series, next year, for the first time, there will be a show in Hong Kong, if the city is still there that is. I mentioned the problems at the city to show organiser Robert Stead and he said he was just glad they hadn’t gone for this year.

I have also received a press release from Fiat. The car maker has surveyed its van drivers in the UK to see which sauce they prefer on their bacon butties. Congratulations to them for getting in more puns in a few words than I would have thought possible – red sauce is playing ketch-up and this was a crowd-sauced campaign, for example. Those like me who prefer no sauce were in a minority. What the press release did not say, is why they did the survey in the first place.

On the subject of surveys, another odd one came from Tempcover that was looking at what people did in cars. It found that 44% of Brits have had sex in a car, and 80% of them with someone else. I don’t think we need to discuss the other 20%.

And finally, to Chinese company Roborock. The firm has not done anything funny, just launched a combined robot vacuum cleaner and mop with clever navigation features for finding its way round the house. I keep mentioning companies that make these in the vague hope that one day one of them will send me one so I can try it out, and report back here, of course, on how I got on with it. Maybe that is why they are scared.

Image: At the AutoSens conference, we were repeatedly told that one of the attributes an autonomous car would need was the ability to handle the unexpected. As an example, Stephane Strahm from Kalray showed this picture. What I want to know is how many human drivers have managed to hit it so far

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