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Alumni in California convene to ponder cars of the future

Aaron Blake
Aaron Blake of Lorax Motor Works explains the unique two wheel drive system of the Hauler, a zero emissions vehicle designed to bring transportation and off-grid energy to the developing world, at a Cornell Silicon Valley mini-conference July 22.

To explore the future of the car and whether 2 billion cars are really a sustainable option, Cornell Silicon Valley gathered a group of about 100 alumni July 22 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

The mini-conference, which featured engineers, economists and social and information scientists, discussed how more-efficient vehicles and fewer cars on the road with just one person were among the possible solutions to a future punctuated by congestion and environmental decline.

Daniel Sperling '73, a University of California-Davis professor, member of the California Air Resources and author of "Two Billion Cars: Driving Toward Sustainability," pointed out that although cars have become much more efficient, we have just tended to use the gains for performance over economy. Sperling, who has been successful in lobbying to have new cars meet higher MPG standards, stressed the need for more money to fund research and development money and for more consumer choice through programs like ride and car sharing.

In addition alumni entrepreneurs who presented included:

  • Aaron Blake '02 and Adam Kravetz '02, M.S. '05, founders of Lorax Motor Works, which designs and builds electric vehicles;
  • Carol DiBenedetto '86, director of project development for the California Cars Initiative, which promotes plug-in hybrids;
  • Donna Horne, DVM '81, co-founder and CEO of ZoomPool, a Bay area rideshare matching service; and
  • John Zimmer '06 founder and COO of Zimride, which leverages social networks to share rides and split costs.

Shannon Murray '94 is senior director of Cornell Business Communities in the Office of Alumni Affairs.