Serial automotive entrepreneur Harri Santamala becomes advisor to driveblocks

With the autonomous vehicle industry moving forward from research and proof-of-concept projects to production-grade deployments, it is more important now than ever to blend the development of world-class technology with a realistic go to market plan and a solid business model.

We are therefore more than happy to have Harri Santamala becoming a part of the driveblocks team as an advisor and contributing his vast experience in building automotive and deep-tech ventures over the past decades.

We have asked Harri to share some insights into why he believes in the approach the driveblocks team is taking and has decided to become a part of this:

What makes driveblocks stand out in the autonomous vehicle sector?

After working in this field for 9 years now, I’m pretty familiar with different technologies, business models and companies in the space. As the autonomous driving is still in its infantry, when engaging with company such as driveblocks, one has to review both: what they have today as well as what they are developing and how does the roadmap, both commercial and technology, look like.

What makes driveblocks stand out from the peers in the industry is their foundation model approach to unlock cost-efficient AI by combining data from various types of vehicles, applications and sensors. This approach allows their individual customers to benefit from ever growing pool of relevant data, enhancing performance and robustness of their solution across different industries.

This technology approach combined with focus on automotive grade safety and aim for types of vehicles and use-cases that are not moonshots but technically reality already today, as well as attitude to be value adding long-term partner to different players in the industry, makes strong offering. That has already been publicly recognized with their recent partnerships announcement with TIER IV and Apex.AI.

What are the most important next steps for the company?

When developing self-driving technology, companies need to choose their approach between ADAS, AD or non-safety applications. As driveblocks is focusing on the two former ones their next steps should be about maturating their technology as well as long term commercial partnerships.

With technology they are going to move their machine learning abilities and safety certifications forward to reach production-grade while pushing forward commercial deployments with partners and customers for those serial production applications.

What has motivated you to become a part of the journey?

One dominant feature in autonomous driving space since 2015 has been overbloated expectations of technology capabilities, and some startups leaning way too much on the future in trying to give impression that does not meet reality. Industry has kind of been in the mode of “fake it until you make it” on steroids. Skilled team of developers can patch pretty quickly something that does incredible demo, under human supervision, but has nothing to do with product due to lack of automotive grade safety.

What motivated me to engage with driveblocks, was their healthy approach to self-driving and focus on solid product over tons of circus tricks. Their AI foundation model allows their customers to benefit from their growth and I expect that next 5+ years these kind of approaches will be the winning recipes to harvest the potential of AI in automotive and machinery space. I’m thrilled to support them on this journey.