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Ode To Joy, the European Commission's vice president and a driverless car: this was and& day one.

2 May 2018

After a year of anticipation and hard work, and& summit & festival was kicked off in style and under a crisp blue sky at 16h00 sharp. Here's a brief overview of what the opening day looked like.

First scoop for and& summit & festival

The self driving car makes a loop in front of the University Library. © Leuven MindGate

While the bells of the University Library's clock tower played 'Ode to Joy', the vice-president of the European Commission (EC), Maros Sefcovic, took place inside a self driving car which parked itself at the foot of the clock tower to officially start and& summit & festival.

Why Maroš Šefčovič, you ask? As mobility is crossing this new, digital frontier, the European Commission will soon table a communication "On the road to automated mobility: an EU strategy for mobility of the future". The ambition is to make the EU a global leader in the deployment of key technologies and infrastructure to boost our competitiveness, improve road safety, reduce emissions and put an end to congestions. And today, of all days, the EU granted the proposal of attributing 25% of the total EU budget to fighting climate change. The first scoop for and& summit & festival was a fact.

"Leuven leads by example."

Picture: Maroš Šefčovič (l.) with Mohamed Ridouani and Carl Devlies, eldermen of the city of Leuven. © Leuven MindGate

Maroš Šefčovič said: "European cities – like Leuven – are becoming incubators for new clean technologies. They are often the first ones to dare testing and implementing them. The city of Leuven is a perfect example of this, as it is set to become climate neutral by 2030."

Johan Merlevede, Managing Director Leuven MindGate, mentioned “A significant number of the more than 300 high-tech companies and research organizations from Leuven are directly or indirectly involved in R&D solutions for autonomous vehicles. Leuven Mindgate’s inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs, are an open community of curious individuals, who are always looking for new R&D collaborations and cross over possibilities, also in the field of autonomous vehicles.”

Fully autonomous vehicles will depend on a creative and intelligent combination of different technologies –advanced vision systems, radar, LIDAR, wireless network technologies … – and underlying algorithms and software.

“We want to keep on highlighting Leuven MindGate as a premier destination for High-Tech and Creativity where innovation and interdisciplinary research collaborations flourish,” Mohamed Ridouani, Deputy Mayor, city of Leuven, concludes.

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