Anything but a uniform approach

Omer Kailef, CEO of Innoviz Technologies, guest speaker at AutoSens Detroit and member of the AutoSens advisory board.

Omer Keilaf is CEO of Innoviz Technologies, one of a growing cluster of specialist technology providers emerging from Israel.  The company showed off their high resolution LiDAR unit at CES 2017 and Omer will join AutoSens Detroit as a guest speaker at our inaugural North America event.

You’ve gone on record talking about a $100 price point for solid state LiDAR – when do you think manufacturers will achieve that price point, and when will we get to $10?

With the rollout of autonomous vehicles in the first few years, the enabling price point will probably be higher than 100$. LiDARs will mostly serve luxury vehicles and shared mobility services. Mass market adoption will drive the price point to $100 and lower.

From a break-down of the Bill of Material it is evident that cutting the price under $100 will increase customers’ willingness to pay and will result in market penetration of at least 30%. This is expected on in the timeframe of 20 years from now.

Therefore, the $100 price point is acceptable and ok for a very long time. Further price reduction at scale and with maturity will be possible in the future, but there is no real need now.

What other companies in the industry do you admire, and why?

We have great respect for any company that is making an effort to transform its vision into a reality. We know how hard it is and how much effort and personal sacrifice is involved.

As an Israeli company we feel very patriotic towards local success stories, most notably in the realm of the automotive industry, Mobileye with the recent mega acquisition by Intel.

It’s no secret that your management are all ex-military – do you think that experience has shaped how your company has approached its methodologies of product development, growth and management?

Innoviz Technologies was founded in 2016 by me along with Oren Rosenzweig, Oren Buskila and Amit Steinberg. All founding members served in the Elite Technological Unit of the Intelligence Corps in the Israeli Defense Forces (“the Unit”) and have since served in key positions in multiple startups and multinational corporations. Our stellar team, majority of whom served in the Unit, is comprised of leading experts in numerous field such as electro-optics, computer vision, MEMS design, signal processing and system architecture.

The Unit provides us with a unique and high quality network of talents. It instilled in us the work practice and set of beliefs to achieve the impossible and provided us with unique skillset to manage and execute complex multidisciplinary projects.

The grassroots of the nation’s start-ups are deeply rooted in our Unit which manages to recruit and nurture incredible individuals.

You’ve got some interesting features on your solid-state LiDAR that are unique – what are they?

InnovizOne™, our flagship High Definition Solid State LiDAR (HD-SSL) fundamentally varies from existing solutions. It is a non-mechanical, highly durable LiDAR system, which uses significantly less components and is more reliable than the mechanical LiDARs used today.

The system is comprised of 3 chips, exploiting the mature semi-conductor processes as well as the associated cost-reducing trajectory. It requires very simple assembly, integration and packaging.

With respect to other solid state LiDAR technologies, Innoviz uses proven and mature methods, which already transitioned from lab to field. In addition, Innoviz’s IP relies upon its system design and digital Signal Processing which enables scalability and superior performance.

As Solid State LiDAR units become standard, what do you think will be the next big challenge for sensor developers?

The automotive industry has fully embraced the realization that to enable fully autonomous vehicles LiDAR is an imperative sensor and that sensor fusion is an absolute must.

Sensors and sensor fusion serve as the crucial building block. Sensors are, in essence, the working tools to create add-on technologies, whether software or hardware based. There is a very strong correlation between this essential base platform and the grand outcome of additional technological development to enable and enhance autonomous features in the vehicle.

The stronger, more precise and technologically rich and advanced we create our “sensor” base, the more we will be able to guarantee a complete, safe and reliable autonomous vehicle.  I therefore believe there will be greater focus on this element.

Additional areas of growing focus are AI and machine learning.

Israel has a reputation for fostering some exciting businesses in computer vision outside the automotive sector, why is that and what should other countries learn from that?

The IDF and its elite technological units serve as test beds for nurturing exceptional talents that are then integrated into the private sector in the Israeli high tech industry.

In addition, Israel is a pioneer in establishing a central government led entity that is solely focused on financial investments and monetary support of local technological companies.

You’ve got lots of vacancies, always great to see in a young ambitious company, what sort of people are you looking for?

Innoviz has rapidly grown throughout 2016 and we are now a team of 50 employees. We are continuing to invest a lot of efforts in recruiting super talented individuals in a variety of technological fields such as electro-optics, MEMS design, Signal Processing, Computer Vision and System Architecture.

Have you made any technical or development mistakes (from your current company or earlier in your career) that actually turned into great ideas or solutions?

We experiment a lot, we take risks in order to run faster, and so far any “risk” we took payed off. Doing mistakes is part of the process but we do our best to fail fast and iterate to find the right course. If you don’t make mistakes, you are probably not aware of them.

If you could rewind time, and talk to yourself at age 16, what advice would you give?

Take more risks, you only learn from experience. Remaining static is the worst choice.

Finally, what convinced you to join the AutoSens community as a sponsor and exhibitor at our upcoming event in Detroit?

AutoSens provides an optimal networking platform for all relevant stakeholders in the automotive industry. In addition, the conference allows to stay up to date with the latest developments in the sensors space. We are looking forward to be part of this amazing and important event and showcase Innoviz’s latest developments and technological advancements.

Join Omer and his team at AutoSens Detroit in May at the M1 Concourse, for workshops, startup pitches, IEEE working group meeting, driverless technology demonstrations, extensive range of relevant and cutting edge conference sessions and plenty of high quality professional networking, as well as an enjoyable social program.  AutoSens – By engineers, for engineers.