Why did you start your start-up, which problem do you address and how do you solve it?
We founded Motor Ai to bring self-propelled cars from simple highway environments to complex urban environments where the true value to society lies. However, for a self-propelled car to function in a complex environment, it must be very safe and have the trust of the public. That's why we have developed a decision-making system that is deductive and certifiable because decisions are made transparently. Most current approaches use black boxes, which produce inexplicable decisions that are illegal in the EU.
How did you get the idea to found Motor Ai?
We saw that the existing AI approaches led to a standstill in the progress of self-propelled cars (the date when people expect there to be fully self-propelled cars is being pushed further and further into the future) and we asked ourselves: "What are the problems with the existing technology and how can we fix them?
What is special about your business model, what do you do differently?
We have always focused on two issues: technological scalability and security in an EU context. This combination makes us unique in space. Our focus on security and certification means that we are on the way to being the only certified autonomous driving company in Europe. Our goal is to be the European Waymo.
What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome in the beginning?
Technical thinking around the AI can be very rigid and in the way, so in the beginning it was a challenge to break this mould and build our own innovative technological system from scratch.
What was the most valuable advice someone gave you during your founding phase?
The most valuable advice we received was to think about how to make the system certifiable and safe. If we had not received that advice, we might have built a solution that ultimately cannot be allowed on the EU's roads.
What has been your greatest success so far?
Becoming a supplier for a large European OEM, which gives us a partner with enormous knowledge and insight into technical and business aspects.
What is the next challenge for you?
Next year we have to speed up the development and certification processes in order to build on the momentum of this year.
Why are you on Startbase?
Our goal is to become the European Waymo. We have started the certification processes and need investors and talent to help us maintain and accelerate our growth.
What would you recommend to other founders?
To study the underlying problems and try to solve them, even if the common wisdom says they are inevitable/insoluble.
Where did you meet?
We met through a former business partner of ours whom we both respected, which was really good social evidence. By colliding ideas, we realized that we had a similar perspective, e.g. seeing problems and trying to solve them.
What has really gone wrong since your foundation?
In the very first days we talked to many consultants who advised us to think either very small or very big in terms of business models, which made it difficult for us to position ourselves in the market. When we learned again to focus more on what the automotive industry, basically our customers, had to say for themselves, we discovered the key issues (certification) and the rest fitted.
Suppose you were mayor of Berlin for a day, what would you change?
Besides offering a digital platform to book appointments at the Berlin Bürgeramt, a risk-taking innovation fund willing to take a chance on the big tech talents in Berlin would be very beneficial to the ecosystem.
(Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash)