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Techtime: Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales to Viva Technology Paris; self-driving trucks to Holland

Viva Technology Paris organizers just announced that Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales will be attending the mega-startup event this summer.

Wales will be talking about developing free speech and internet freedom, according to a “breaking news!” email that just hit the Dispatches inbox. That email promises Wales will reveal “the secret to the business model that for the first time gave the world ‘free knowledge for free minds’.”

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Jimmy Wales

Wikipedia is the world’s first free user-generated online encyclopaedia. We decided to go to a reliable source to give you some numbers documenting its dominance, so here are the details about Wikipedia from … Wikipedia:

Wikipedia has grown to become the world’s sixth-most-popular website, according to Alexa Internet, recording over 186 million hits per day, 522,291,365 edits, 792,182 uploaded files, and 16,442,147 registered users.[1][2]

Other featured speakers for Viva Technology Paris include:

Bénédicte de Raphélis Soissan, founder of Clustree. Bénédicte founded Clustree in 2013 as an internal mobility tool that offers matching suggestions between talents, jobs and careers. Combined to a custom-made algorithm, the continuous analysis of hundreds of millions of career profiles reveals an optimal path for any given employee. She literally puts data at the root of HR decisions.

Bénédicte launched a pilot program at a large company. It proved successful and lead her directly to world leaders such as Engie and Orange, who will also be present at Viva Technology. Last year Clustree secured a €2.5 million series B round from Alven Capital and business angels like Nicolas Brusson (BlaBlaCar) and Jonathan Benhamou (PeopleDoc).

Yossi Vardi, “Godfather” of the Israeli startup scene. Vardi is a seasoned entrepreneur, business angel and a major community builder of the Israeli tech scene. He launched one of the country’s first software ventures – Tekem – at the age of 26 and has since invested in dozens of projects, mostly as an early stage business angel. Several were sold to international software and tech leaders including Mirabilis (the creator of ICQ, pioneer of instant messaging), sold to AOL in 1998, Gteko (sold to Microsoft) and Tivella (sold to Cisco).

VIVA TECHNOLOGY PARIS is scheduled for June 30 to July 2. (See our original post, which has more details, here.)

Viva Technology Paris is billed as Europe’s largest tech event and the first global collaboration bringing together large corporations, investors and startups. Viva Technology Paris will give 5,000 startups the chance to connect with thousands of senior executives and hundreds of investors, academics and opinion leaders from all over the world.

The event has backing from some of the biggest tech and financial firms in the world including global insurer AXA, banking giant BNP Paribas, London-based accounting and consulting firm Ernst & Young, Google and Orange, the French telecommunications conglomerate. With AXA and BNP Paribas as participants, it’s safe to assume fintech, which is what Europe does best, will be the driver.

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What we want to know is, will Jimmy Wales be going to Paris in a convoy of autonomous trucks?

Self-driving cars may be the technology of the future, but self-driving trucks are already here with the encouragement of the Dutch government.

For example, NXP Semiconductors  and DAF Trucks – both based in Eindhoven – demonstrated self-driving technologies in automated trucks here today. The demonstration was prelude to an autonomous truck “platooning” challenge that will see autonomous big rigs drive in from cities across Europe to the Netherlands. Imagine, if you would, 16-wheelers drafting inches apart like Nascar drivers down the autobahn, but with no humans at the wheels. New technology allows data-sharing autonomous trucks to stay in tight formation to minimize drag,  maximize fuel economy and efficiency, and reduce accidents and traffic jams.

(Which seems to us like the smarter safety play – not to mention financial model – than cars, considering how many tractor-trailers are on the road at any given moment.)

The news release from NXP is fairly jargon-heavy, so here’s our neophyte translation:

RoadLINK, a vehicle-to-vehicle communications system developed by NXP, uses wireless communications (yes, Wifi like for your computer) combined with NXP radar technology. It allows trucks within a platoon to exchange information in real time, breaking and accelerating in response to the lead truck. The high-speed communications of NXP RoadLINK technology allow extremely tight distances and truly synchronous driving between the platooning DAF Trucks, according to the release.

To demonstrate autonomous acceleration and braking, the planned distance between the vehicles is slated for 0.5 seconds – which, when traveling at 80 kph (50 mph), translates to a distance of only 10 metres (30 feet). The responsiveness of the trailing truck within the platoon is estimated at 25 times faster than the average human reaction time of one second – saving critical time in case of emergency braking.

The demonstration is part of the European Truck Platooning Challenge, an event organized by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. The challenge is meant to bring autonomous platooning one step closer to implementation by showcasing economic, traffic management and safety advantages. It also is meant to jump-start, so to speak, legislation and standardization of Intelligent Transportation Systems across Europe, where rules and regulations regarding speed and distance vary between countries.

And so we don’t want to give you the impression Dutch companies are the only ones participating, the NXP/DAF team is just one of many teams taking part in the European Truck Platooning Challenge. They include Stuttgart-based Daimler, which calls its system, “Connected Highway Pilot system.”

All we can say is, we hope their wifi signal is more dependable than ours.

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