From internal combustion engines to power steering, satellite radio and cutting-edge navigation panels, the automobile has been cramming more and more engineering and technological wizardry into our cars; and the innovations we’ve seen to date don’t scratch the surface for the vehicles we’ll see in the not-so-distant-future.

The confluence of Detroit’s automotive industry expertise and Silicon Valley’s ingenuity ignited a connected car conversation on August 13, with an Airfoil curated Churchill Club event titled The Promise of the Connected Car: What It Can Be and Who Can Win.  It was a spirited discussion moderated by veteran automotive reporter, Jamie Butters and driven by automotive industry insiders:  Johann Jungwirth from Mercedes Benz, Maarten Sierhuis from Nissan, Rob Csongor from NVIDIA and Jim Misener, a subject-matter expert.

Conversation topics ran the gamut of the connected car universe, from security to infrastructure to healthcare and insurance. Regarding the latter, companies like Metromile (an Airfoil Client) are leveraging your car’s data to help you drive smarter and more efficiently with its mobile app and plug-in device; as well as offering the growing group of people who drive under 10,000 miles a year, the nation’s only pay-per-mile car insurance – saving them nearly $500 per year. But how will insurance companies respond to self-driving vehicles? That’s still up for debate and conjecture.

One audience member asked how modern highways would look and function when a fraction of the vehicles on the road are autonomous or self-driving and others are traditional. Rob Csongor answered by referencing the days when horses and vehicles began to share the road. In short, when cars arrived on the scene, dedicated lanes were implemented for cars. As cars began to outnumber horses, the horses were then relegated to fewer lanes, and, of course, eventually phased off the road entirely. Rob predicted that we would implement similar solutions as we transition to smarter vehicles.

Revolutionizing an industry that’s been around for more than a century is hard work. But last week’s event was a reminder of the possibilities, as well as the synergies between the technological and automotive hubs of the world – Silicon Valley and Detroit. There was an overwhelming sense that Silicon Valley ingenuity mixed in with Detroit’s sheer automotive know-how will together pave the way for the cars of tomorrow.

(Panelists included Rob Csongor, @Micco4; Johann Jungwirth, @JohannJungwirth; Jim Misener, #JimMisener; Maarten Sierhuis, @msierhuis; Jamie Butters, @MittenHawk)