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Keynote: Preparing for the Impact of Autonomous Vehicles on Society and Industry

Richard Smallwood
President & CEO, Sumitomo Rubber North America


Despite being nearly 50 years later than anticipated, the age of the Autonomous Vehicle is upon us.  The impact on both society and industry will be as profound as the advent of the self-propelled vehicle itself.  The established Automotive Industry will be challenged with re-aligning massive resources to adapt to a changing model of vehicle ownership, the probable shift to utilitarian versus recreational use of vehicles, changes in the scope of product liability, and the entrance of new competitors not constrained by historic momentum and old infrastructure. 

Society will be forced to confront the troubling issues of passenger and pedestrian safety, loss of personal privacy, freedom of individual choice, and the necessary shift of enormous governmental resources to the development of a new transportation infrastructure.  The challenge is in understanding and properly preparing this inevitable change, understanding that there are for too many variable interacting with and against each other, to accurately predict when these changes will occur, and exactly what they will look like.


Richard Smallwood is the President and CEO of Sumitomo Rubber North America.  He served as the CEO and President of Falken Tire Company and also serves as he Director of SRI Tire Trading Ltd.  He is an inspiring leader who is a new member of the Rubber Manufacturers Board of Directors.  Richard received his BA degree from California State University and his MBA in Business from Pepperdine University.  His hobbies include woodworking, knife making, building hot rods, rock climbing and motorcycles.  He and his wife Bari, have two sons.