David Helton, Delphi chief engineer-Gasoline Engine Management Systems, opens his remarks by deadpanning: “Welcome to the most exciting topic at SAE this year – serial data.”

He gets a big laugh from the crowd, mostly engineers. Helton follows up by saying: “I consider myself not so much a serial data expert as a serial data victim.”

Gregory Weber, Chrysler director-powertrain controls engineering, tells attendees: “I’ve got good news and bad news about my presentation. The good news is I’m an engineer, so it will be brief. The bad news is I’m an engineer.”

Incubator for Distraction

Jay Joseph, senior manager for Honda’s U.S. regulatory office, says he knows the phenomenon of distracted driving intimately, but not because he’s spent his entire career in automotive.

Instead, he cites his residency in Southern California, where he commutes the infamous Interstate 405 daily.

“I think it is an incubator for bad driving habits,” he tells a session on distracted driving and autonomous driving. “I see something new every day.”

No Free Ride

Andreas Schamel, who heads Ford powertrain research and development and the auto maker’s advanced research center in Europe, reminds the SAE audience that game-changing technologies are not free.

Major fuel-economy advances, he says, will mean added costs to consumers but also to OEMs.

“This is not a not-for-profit business. We tried that a few years ago, but learned it is not a sustainable business practice.”