By 2022, you might commute to work via a driverless vehicle that deftly dodges bikers and pedestrians, thanks to artificial intelligence vastly superior to that of puny humans

The premise -- one that investors have poured billions of dollars into over the past few years -- is expected to dominate conversation at this week's Web Summit 2017 in Lisbon, Portgual.

Tens of thousands of entrepreneurs, technologists, and investors from around the world will descend on the capital city to discuss issues ranging from government regulation and economic tremors to diversity and hiring.

But a total of six panels are set to explore the autonomous vehicle industry, gathering leaders including Uber's CPO, Jeff Holden. (Uber and Alphabet's Waymo, the technology giant's self-driving car unit, are currently embroiled in a legal battle over allegedly stolen trade secrets.)

In addition to Uber--which is slated to discuss the possibility of "flying cars" in the not-too-distant future--the conference will feature upstarts and traditional automakers that are similarly invested in the race to develop self-driving cars. On Tuesday, Comma.ai founder George Hotz is expected to tell the audience about how his San Francisco software startup tracks a vehicle's driving stats (i.e., engine temperature, fuel level, and steer angle). The following day, Austin Russell, CEO of Orlando-based Luminar Technologies, will discuss the underlying sensor system, often referred to as LiDAR, that powers autonomous vehicles.

There's also an entire panel dedicated to how humans and machines will alternate control and make ethical choices--featuring Adam Kell, an investor with Comet Labs; Zach Barasz, a partner with BMW; and Karen Francis, the board director of the Palo Alto, California, self-driving car startup Nauto.

Autonomous vehicles won't be the only topic discussed at the summit, of course. Other panels will delve into hot areas including cybersecurity, fintech, AI, and health care. 

There will be an array of high-profile speakers, including former Vice President Al Gore (now chairman of Generation Investment Management), Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield, and Reddit CEO Steve Huffman. 

The summit, now in its 8th year, runs until Thursday. 

Published on: Nov 6, 2017