How Detroit Regains Its Motor City Charm

September was a highly vibrant month in Detroit. The Motor City charm and its verve was fully evident and on display. Developers and startups are playing a pivotal role in fostering innovation and reenergizing the community. With the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Detroit Month of Design, Electrifly – the state’s annual immersive event and TEDx Detroit, the focus was on mobility, AI, electrification, augmented reality, virtual reality, parking solutions, sustainability and much more. There is a reason that Detroit is back! 

The collaborative power of the Michigan Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (Mobility MI) and Plug and Play Detroit was fully visible at the NAIAS in Huntington Place, Detroit. The Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME) is a Michigan state office that works with state government, academia, and private industry to improve Michigan’s mobility ecosystem. The OFME has a networking zone at the Detroit Auto Show called AutoMobili-D. Over 100 + innovators and start-ups demonstrated future mobility platforms in the Plug and Play Detroit Startup Arena. NAIAS also featured 38 different vehicle brands and the auto industry’s imminent shift to EV technology, including arial cars now in development. The cool part doesn’t stick around at its show floor – The Detroit Smart Parking Lab (DSPL), an open innovation platform for testing connected parking, mobility, and EVs offered free parking for the attendees. The lab was launched by real estate, technology, and automotive companies. Also featured, was the nation’s first-of-its-kind, real world test site for emerging parking technology – the Detroit Smart Parking Lab for testing advanced technologies in parking, logistics and EV charging.

Detroit is the first and only UNESCO city of design in the United States, using design to improve and empower the lives of everyday people. In recent years, Detroit has faced numerous challenges – from economic decline to urban blight. However, a wave of designers and entrepreneurs have emerged as catalysts for change. They recognize that by harnessing the power of design, they can create meaningful solutions that address social and economic issues. 

Electrifly provided an immersive experience as art was intersected with technology. This event was held in Detroit. Bedrock, in collaboration with BrandXR (an AR/VR company based out of Florida and Detroit) and Electrifly, gave the audience a fabulous immersive experience at the First National Building. Detroit’s most beloved murals, painted by local legends and international names, were brought to life at this interactive pop-up art gallery featuring more than 20 augmented reality experiences via the Electrifly App. You not only get to admire the art pieces but also interact with them.

Apart from the buzzing innovation, technology meets art + sustainability, the month rounded off with AI taking the main stage at TEDxDetroit. Curated by the community tech and business producers, the event saw several new start-ups in AI, 3D Printing and Gaming taking center stage in the labs experience while some of the talks focused on electrification, and how AI has changed the very nature of work.

As mobility technology advances at an astonishing pace, the Detroit Region emerges as a captivating hub of cutting-edge innovation. With a promising set of mobility leaders taking charge and with its rich automotive heritage and forward-thinking mindset, this region is at the forefront of revolutionizing transportation. The region’s commitment to research and development translates into tangible advancements that are shaping the way we move and interact with our surroundings.

As part of the Developers Alliance, we actively engage in events to spread awareness about our mission and build stronger relationships with startups and emerging industries. Through these efforts, we contribute to the growth and success of the developer community by fostering collaboration, supporting startups, and advocating for policies and initiatives that benefit developers and entrepreneurs.

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By Anu Gopalakrishnan

Anu Gopalakrishnan comes with years of experience in building brands and business tech communities. She is a tech designer, entrepreneur, and community builder. Anu has led numerous initiatives with Ford Motor Co., Sirius XM, and the AAA (The Auto Club Group) in the mobility, sustainability, satellite communication and fintech areas. In these roles, she was exemplary at executing projects focused on design thinking, digital transformation, and tech innovation. Anu is Head of Developer and Partner Relations at the Developers Alliance – bringing voices of the global dev community through advocacy initiatives, building new partners and enhancing member engagement.

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