The State of Autonomous Mobility at SEMICON West 2020

Here’s what we discussed when we met virtually with drivers of autonomous vehicle technology at a SEMICON West panel.

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On July 22, we took the virtual stage at the 50th annual SEMICON West conference, which featured leading global microelectronics manufacturing and design professionals.

Our panel, in particular, consisted of Silicon Valley mobility startups and VCs, as we discussed our innovations, experiences, growth opportunities, and COVID-19 pandemic-related challenges.

Joining us on the panel were Junli Gu, Ph.D. (moderator), Jeff Peters, Ph.D. (Partner, AutoTech Ventures), Yao Zhai, Ph.D. (Cofounder, Ziiko Robotics), Bibhrajit Halder, Ph.D. (Cofounder & CEO, Safe.ai), Miao Hong, Ph.D. (General Partner and Chairman, Silicon Valley Future Capital), and Yvonne Lutsch (Investment Principal, Robert Bosch Venture Capital).

Part of our discourse involved discussing the different ways in which we approach developing the software required to make autonomous driving possible. We create full-stack software solutions that can also be dispensed modularly, starting at L2+ and aiming for L4 stacks that can scale beyond autonomous vehicles, including fields like drones and robotics.

Among some interesting points discussed from other panelists, Yvonne Lutsch talked about China’s car and e-bike purchasing spikes in April post-COVID peak to curb reliance on public transportation. Yao Zhai confirmed this with data from China that suggests far more trips taken in personal vehicles. Jeff Peters echoed these sentiments, projecting both short- and long-term shifts from public to private transportation, although he cautioned against the shift being too drastic: “Large events that we say “this will change everything” typically don’t.”

That being said, additional shifts in the industry include the potential for more startups either folding or getting acquired by major players. Ms Lutsch pointed out “money is probably not abundant anymore in the VC space” for non-viable startups, Mr Peters pointed out how players in the AV space are losing time to do R&D due to the pandemic, stretching out time-to-market, as we also did. Helm CEO Vlad Voroninski pointed out, “COVID has caused reduction in R&D across the board.”

On the software front, we talked about our unique licensing model as full-stack and modular providers: “Software is the biggest differentiator in AV. The bet we made early on is we would be able to offer strategic value beyond what auto manufacturers can do internally,” said Vlad. “You need to offer something better than what everyone else has at the time to break in.”

What is that differentiation? Our CEO continues: “The strategy we take is focusing on software, and being hardware agnostic to the computer platform and the sensors. We differentiate in perception and prediction.” At our core, it’s our Deep Teaching’s higher accuracy that offers the ‘something better’ than everyone else has.

The modularity approach is important, not just with software but hardware. A software or hardware bundle would become obsolete quickly. At Helm.ai, “We provide various partnership models to deliver sophisticated L2+ and higher. There’s an API we provide that allows the right level of extraction for downstream development.”

We can’t thank SEMICON West enough for hosting us and including us on this panel.

Interested in learning more about Helm.ai and our approach to Unsupervised Learning and AI for autonomous driving? Be sure to subscribe to the Helm.ai YouTube channel for more context or visit the Helm.ai website.

Helm.ai is building the next generation of AI technology for automation.

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