Thomas
von der Ohe

Co-Founder, CEO

WHAT DRIVES ME

You come across an opportunity to positively impact societies around the globe maybe once in your lifetime. An opportunity to truly make a difference. Our unique approach to autonomous driving gives us this chance: redefining how people move in a better way. Building and shipping a product with this great team is what drives me day and night.

BACKGROUND

Launched Zoox’ first self-driving vehicle on public streets as leading Technical Program Manager in Silicon Valley, launched Amazon’s first Echo as leading Technical Program Manager on Device Software, Founded two (funded) mobility companies. M. Sc. Computer Science & Product, Stanford University.

Fabrizio
Scelsi

Co-Founder, VP Engineering

WHAT DRIVES ME

Building products together with an amazing team based on cutting-edge technology to serve a greater purpose and solve problems – for the people, for our planet.

BACKGROUND

Manager of an engineering team in Silicon Valley to build autonomous shuttles, built teams and various mobility products: electric race cars, e-motorcycles, light electric vehicles, electric passenger vehicles, including one of the most successful electric delivery vehicles in Germany. RWTH Aachen, Imperial College London.

Bogdan
Djukic

Co-Founder, Director Engineering, Teledrive Experience

WHAT DRIVES ME

Vay is aiming to launch the first vehicle without a safety driver on public roads in Europe. This involves exciting engineering challenges, many of which have never been worked on before, ranging from autonomous vehicle technology, cybersecurity, backend, machine learning and safety-critical SW. Coming up with engineering solutions to these topics is something that I’m super excited to work on at Vay.

BACKGROUND

Team Lead at Microsoft, Senior Software Engineer at Skype. M. Sc. in Computer Science from Belgrade University.

Mariona
Bosch

Director of Engineering Operations

WHAT DRIVES ME

Working closely with people from different cultures and professional backgrounds (hardware, software, operations, etc.) gives me the chance to learn new ways of approaching projects, structuring teams, and setting up processes every day. The results of this incredible teamwork are hugely rewarding, and visible in each step of our product.

BACKGROUND

Part of the management circle at AUDI AG, responsible for the implementation of prototypes at early development stages of new products (innovation vehicles, concept and pre-series vehicles, show cars, design models, testing single parts, PoCs, 3D-printing)

Hans-Leo
Ross

Director of Safety

WHAT DRIVES ME

All my professional life I have been working for the protection and safety of people and the environment. I want to further provide safe and user-friendly automation systems for our future mobility needs.

BACKGROUND

25+ years experience in system safety at Conti., Mando, Bosch. Led the VDA working group in Germany to create ISO 26262 and influenced worldwide safety standardization. Author of several text books on functional safety.

Justin
Spratt

VP - Business & Corporate Development

WHAT DRIVES ME

What drives me is to work on goals that have a big impact on society. Additionally, I wanted to work with the smartest and most innovative people in the tech world. That’s better at Vay than any other company I’ve spoken to recently.

BACKGROUND

Was CEO and chief growth officer at Quirk. Began his professional life at Morgan Stanley as a fixed income trader after studying economics and finance. Built the first startup incubator in Africa in 2002 and has been mentoring founders of technology startups for over ten years. He is an angel investor in software technology and holds board positions in some of these companies.

Friederike
Reuter

Director of Expansion

WHAT DRIVES ME

Solving complex problems with ambitious and talented people who don’t accept the status quo. And having fun at the same time.

BACKGROUND

Political theorist turned economist turned venture builder. I hold degrees in economics from Harvard and Oxford, where I was a Rhodes Scholar, and spent a couple years as a consultant incubating and advising digital businesses at BCG.

Christian
Hertlein

Director of Product Design and Brand

WHAT DRIVES ME

Building the future of mobility, which is sustainable and truly serving the needs of people, by creating a holistic experience, a relatable brand and shaping services that are going to make a difference to how we move within and between cities.

BACKGROUND

Head of Global Design at N26, Senior Lead Designer at IDEO, in-car interactions for Volkswagen.

David
Gossow

Engineering Lead

WHAT DRIVES ME

After having worked in autonomous robotics research for a long time in the Silicon Valley, I am thrilled to be working at a company that is finally bringing this technology into people’s everyday lives.

BACKGROUND

Tech Lead at Google Tango in Mountain View, Research Engineer at Willow Garage, yoga instructor since 2018.

Vladimir
Bilonenko

Senior Engineering Manager

WHAT DRIVES ME

Helping engineers to do their best and most important work. Elegance in software. Bringing ideas from books to real life and from one domain to another. Going from A to B fast.

BACKGROUND

Software Generalist. Maps and Mobility Geek (Lon, Lat not Lat, Lon). High Load at Yandex, Geo Analytics and Last Mile at HERE Maps, Mobility Platform at Daimler. Conway’s Law Enthusiast.

Beatrice
Tîrziu

Software Engineer

WHAT DRIVES ME

The people around me. Seeing the team have such drive, determination and passion is unique and certainly contagious.

BACKGROUND

Having a B. Sc. and M. Sc. in Computer Science, I joined Vay as a Software Engineer in the company’s first months and early in my career. Still growing and learning together two years later.

 

ALINA
PRESTI

Teledriver

WHAT DRIVES ME

A car enthusiast, driven by cars, driving and technology.

BACKGROUND

Nursery school teacher. Driver at Skoda’s start-up Caredriver.

Anja
Rechtsteiner

Head of Communications

WHAT DRIVES ME

What drives me is to start something from scratch and use all my experience to find the best way to communicate our exciting story. I believe my work can have an impact on how people feel about more sustainable transportation options.

BACKGROUND

Worked in leading communication agencies for 15 years such as fischerAppelt and Ketchum in Germany and the UK for various brands and companies from FMCG to travel to mobility. Holds an MBA in Communication & Leadership from Quadriga University as well as a Master degree in History, Sociology and Media & Art Studies from University of Constance.

Johanna
Loomis

Lead Industrial Designer

WHAT DRIVES ME

What drives me at Vay is the enthusiasm and passion for a vision that is tangibly embedded in the company culture, and at the same time the discipline in its implementation.

BACKGROUND

Industrial Designer and Team Lead at TEAMS Design GmbH for over six years, started as a Trainee in Shanghai, China. Worked as Industrial and Product Designer at Lothar Böhm Associates, Lutz Herrmann Design and Werksdesign. Completed the GROW Design Leadership & Management Training and is an IF-Award jury since 2022.

How do Industrial Designers and Engineers work together on a tech product

Industrial Design Process in a mid-stage start-up surrounding

By Johanna Loomis, Lead Industrial Designer

Physical Interaction is a significant part of the Holistic User Experience 

In the past, I have worked for Design Agencies and Consultancies. In this context, the start-up projects have always been the most exciting. They are innovative, daring and the trial-and-error approach is the most satisfying process, it is ten times faster and requires a hands-on mentality. 

In the Vay universe, there are many more physical interactions than you might think. For example, we are facing the question of how does the teledriver hand over control and liability of the vehicle to the user? This doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical interaction, but it could be! To figure out these kinds of mini-interactions in the customer journey, discovering the happy paths and pain points together with UX research, UI/UX, communication design, and also with the engineering team is crucial for the final product and service.

Clients nowadays do not accept mediocre thought-through interactions anymore, they become impatient by the sheer amount of alternatives, so the user has to be involved at a very early stage.

The power of Collaboration

Collaboration and Project Involvement

Projects are initiated from both sides, Engineering and User Experience, which makes us equal on every level. Still, it can be challenging to fight for the user’s needs in a meeting with five engineers and one designer. But the discussion is worth it and it will definitely pay off in the end.

We teach each other about different tools, programmes and technologies. For example, I taught the Engineers hand sketching to express their ideas faster and more precisely. In a very heterogeneous team, coming from different cultural backgrounds, adding another language is very helpful to communicate and collaborate. As we move through the design process, we develop the technical package and design surfaces with applied brand design elements simultaneously, which is very efficient. During the projects, we always ensure quick responsiveness and short feedback cycles, repeated UX tests and design reviews with all relevant stakeholders. Conducting retrospectives on ID & Engineering Cooperation gives us the opportunity to understand what went well and what could possibly be adjusted in the next phase. 
Speaking of challenges… Innovative development projects essentially have a short life cycle and the technical components are constantly changing, which means that the design has to be adapted several times to new circumstances. This doesn’t necessarily make the design better, but it is a chance to iterate on the run.

Iterative & streamline Design Process

Over the years of working with different organisations, I discovered that my best practices are applied within a design process based on the streamline idea. It follows a path that is not perfectly linear but flows with iterations. It is not as repetitive as a digital design process, because it would be far too expensive and time-consuming to create high-end physical prototypes multiple times.

The projects in the Vay universe are so different that the process has to be adapted a little each time. I will describe roughly how we approach requests for Industrial Design: 

  1. Navigate through all project conditions. Have a briefing template filled out by the requester. Collect requirements from all stakeholders, like Engineering, PM/TPM, Legal/Safety and scrutinise the UX requirements. Hold a kick-off meeting with all of them to get aligned on expectations and timelines.
     
  2. Always start with research and discovery to comprehend what the desired product is. What are the technical requirements and how solid is the internal package, are there opportunities for improvement? What is the context and how is it used and by whom? Work directly with the internal UX Researcher if needed. If you understand the product and can put yourself in the user’s shoes, the result will be better before the project has even started.
  3. Mini Thumbnail sketches help with ideation to get an idea of the shape and where brand-specific design elements could be placed. Always keep your Design language vision and strategy in mind!
    Do you need technical solutions first? Teach your engineers how to draw and hold a workshop to gather their precious ideas as well. Do quick prototypes to figure out ergonomics, working principles or depending on the project, do role games with colleagues through the Customer Journey to get an idea of whether users would understand your intent. 
    After rough idea sketching, choose your favourite basic ideas and start sketching them out in more detail. Make 3-4 sketches to have variations and try out some things. This can be done with paper and pen or use a digital sketchpad to easily revise details. Because this will not be your last sketch.
  4. If you now have to focus and decide on one design it can get tricky. There are different methods to find the right design, but if you have written down and weighted certain factors beforehand, it is quite easy to judge which design is best suited for your application. 
    Revisions and iterations will keep coming up while discussing the results of 2-3 designs with all stakeholders. To help them understand the idea it helps to have some more high-end digital sketch-renderings in different perspectives and in application to understand the proportions and impact.
  5. When a decision has to be made, get into detail. Things get real in 3D. Surfaces are being defined and technical requirements, distances, material limitations are set.Based on the 3D Structure colours, materials and surfaces can be defined. At the same time the Mechanical Engineering team takes over the surfaces to add the construction framework and final technical intervals.
    New prototypes are printed/built and functionality can be tested, as well as the design appearance. These “Look-like-works-like” prototypes can be tested by both engineers and users.
  6. Iterations in design as well as in Engineering are being done until the perfect product is being built in. Design quality checks are made after each revision. Then the tooling (if needed) and production can get started. 

Industrial Design Strategy

My current role at Vay is to create a strategically based Industrial Design Style Guide which is derived from the Brand Strategy. The challenge is that we are not building cars, but using an existing platform, which already provides a certain design, which does not correspond to our DNA.
We are not the only ones facing this challenge. Thule is one example of a design-driven company who puts function in the foreground and their styling plays a subordinate role. Yet, their products are distinguishable and recognizable. That is exactly the question we are facing with our exterior as well as car interior attachments. Do we want to integrate them and be inconspicuous, or do we want to stand out from the platform and be loud and striking? Rest assured – we are on it.

Having agreements, principles and design elements defined, helps us: 

  1. to be consistent in our design quality, to communicate with external parties about expectations 
  2. to create an emotional bonding with the customers through repetitive visual cues
  3. to shape Holistic Experiences though great and recurring experiences over several channels and touchpoints

Design Management starts even before the process shown here. It is also about finding the right balance for project planning and not prioritising too strictly, because the circumstances can change anytime. Flexibility in project management is crucial in a start-up, but also being visible and playing an active role in project planning to create value and to make design relevant.

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