We talked to Amit Rosenzweig of Ottopia about in-vehicle teleoperation module and he had the following to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Amit Rosenzweig: Thankfully, we are all doing well. It seems that Israel is managing to handle the pandemic quite well. It is very nice of you to ask.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Ottopia.
Amit Rosenzweig: I started my career by spending 12 years in the IDF building missile defense systems and running a cyber-security department of 50+ professional hackers.
Following the military, I spent time at a startup involved in wireless video transmission and at Microsoft as the head of Product Management for their Advanced Threat Analytics.
After a couple of years in Microsoft, I decided to start my own company. Back in 2018, there was a lot of appetite for funding startups in the mobility space. Therefore, I decided to validate some ideas I had with potential customers and found out there is a need for human drivers/operators to be involved to fully deploy “driverless” vehicles.
It seemed obvious to me that we will always need a person to be able to link in and solve any problem that may arise while an autonomous machine is doing its job. This is no different than other mission-critical systems, like a power plant or an airplane, that always include humans in the loop.
After all, if an elevator needs the ability for a technician to perform a manual override then certainly something as complex as a driverless vehicle that has to navigate incredibly challenging situations will need it well?
How does Ottopia innovate?
Amit Rosenzweig: Our company’s mission is to enable a safe and efficient transition to full vehicular autonomy via our proprietary teleoperation platform. We do this by enabling continuous video transmission with extremely low latency while utilizing completely public 4G cellular networks and integrating closely with our customers’ autonomous software.
While remotely operating a vehicle, anything less than perfect video feed means you may cause an accident. As such, we strive to get a flawless framerate while ensuring a clear image.
On top of that, we have built-in cybersecurity and safety systems to ensure that adding teleoperation to an autonomy platform will only bolster it and never hinder.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Amit Rosenzweig: Initially, a few customers informed us that everything was put on hold. We were quite worried about how we would manage to perform installations if we were not able to leave the country. Fortunately, due to some very dedicated work from my team, and a flexible mindset, we managed fully remote installations and have done a number of them since the beginning of the pandemic.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Amit Rosenzweig: Initially, we did have cashflow worries. Many companies were sending their employees on furlough. However, I did not want to do that to my employees, nor did I want our progress to be affected. Instead, we opted on a number of cost-saving actions, including cutting down our marketing budget and negotiating for better prices with some of our service providers. Thankfully things have since improved.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Ottopia in the future?
Amit Rosenzweig: I like running in the park, almost daily. That helps me clear my mind after a busy day and also strategize about the future.
Ottopia is already considered by many to be the #1 teleoperation vendor globally, as we’re the only company today that provides all elements needed for a mature teleoperation platform that is ready to be deployed. I project Ottopia will continue to maintain that status, grow, have more customers, raise more cash from investors, and dominate several key markets.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Amit Rosenzweig: Some of our competitors are Phantom Auto, Designated Driver and Fernride. Our goal is to continue to deliver the best-in-market Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) while offering a mature system to ensure a safe and secure teleoperation system for our customers.
Your final thoughts?
Amit Rosenzweig: Despite the challenges this year has brought, we are stronger than ever, and as such, we are growing. If you know top-notch software developers in Israel we would certainly be interested to hear from them!
And thank you for inviting me to do this. I am always glad to be able to share about the importance of teleoperation and the future of vehicle autonomy.