On Wednesday, November 1, Plug-In NCW participated in an exciting EVent at the Confluence Technology Center (CTC) in Wenatchee. Hosted by the Chelan County PUD, Dr. Michael Kintner-Meyer of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. gave a presentation on “Smart Transportation: What is smart about it and how might it impact you?”

Our current level of “autonomous” (self driving) cars, the future of fully autonomous cars and their impact on the economics and environment of Washington state was the focus of the presentation, with a panel discussion afterward. Plug-In NCW Charger Network Coordinator volunteer Randy Brooks participated in the panel discussion.

To compliment the presentation, Plug-In NCW agreed to have some AutoPilot equipped Tesla vehicles at the CTC before the presentation for attendees to get a demonstration ride of “semi-autonomous” vehicle operation.

That turned out to be more challenging than we thought! After several weeks of unsuccessfully getting any autopilot-equipped vehicles to attend, the day before we finally got a commitment for one vehicle! Then, through the extraordinary efforts of Jim White at Chelan PUD, another vehicle from west of the mountains agreed to be there.

Although the demo rides were not scheduled to begin until 5 p.m., people started showing up at 4:30. Fortunately one vehicle was already there, so demo rides began. By 5 o'clock we had two vehicles going and a full sign up sheet!

Then, out of the blue, two brand new Tesla Model Xs arrived! The owners, from the Wenatchee area, had heard about the event and showed up to see what was going on. They readily agreed to give demo rides! It was a good thing, because by 6:30, when we closed demo rides to attend the presentation, 77 people had been given rides! Wow!

Folks from Cascade Auto also brought a brand new Chevy Bolt for people to see.

About 90 people attended the presentation and panel discussion. Interest was high and questions and discussion continued until 8:30 pm, when the PUD event coordinator had to end the EVent!