Born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil Dr. Mariana Avezum, 32, is the founder of the WARR Hyperloop team, the interdisciplinary student team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) that won the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition four different times over the last years. The team designed, built, and tested functional prototypes for this new mode of transportation. Mariana obtained her PhD at the TUM on how Smart Sustainable Cities can use fog architectures to track their progress towards the UN’s sustainable development goals. After founding a sustainable multimodal routing startup to solve traffic challenges, Mariana then realised that she is more excited by developing technology rather than running a business. She went on to spend time working for Tesla’s Gigafactory in Berlin Brandenburg as part of the special taskforce of the 25Guns. Mariana joined Vay in November 2021 to work on the mobility platform, a key necessity to launch their service and to power fleet optimizations and routing.
Why is your role important at Vay?
Vay is now working on transitioning from teledriving technology development to building a full scale mobility service which is capable of launching on public streets with real customers. This needs an entirely new and unique technical structure, which my team – the mobility platform – is currently working on.
What is the most exciting thing you have worked on at Vay?
The Fleet Management system is very exciting. It helps us determine which car, telestation, teledriver, and in some early stages also which safety driver will be matched to which ride request, while ensuring that we maintain an available and efficient fleet. Although it looks simple to just match the ride request to the closest vehicle, we actually need to take into account the availability and schedules of teledrivers and vehicles, which increases the complexity of the algorithm.
What was your proudest accomplishment in your career before joining Vay?
There have been two big milestones in my career: 1) Leading the team that won the first ever hyperloop pod competition and 2) getting my PhD. The first one really taught me the impact and importance of great teamwork and dedication, and how the sum of different people’s skills can be so much bigger than the individual parts. The second one showed me (again) how important it is to not give up on things that seem impossible and that even things that seem to be done alone, actually require so much support from so many different people.
What sparked your interest in Vay?
Solving mobility and autonomous driving is really hard, and teledriving allows us to do this one step at a time, by slowly transitioning between teledriving and autonomous vehicle scenarios. This greatly impacts the scalability and safety of our features. Also, after spending so much time talking about how we need less cars on the roads, working for a company that really shares that vision is quite awesome. Vay’s vision of a flexible, cheap, and shared mobility service could be a great step towards that direction.
What impact do you want to have on the future of mobility?
For a long time my goal has been to solve the traffic of places like São Paulo, where I grew up. I want to help riders have an alternative to owning a car. Every car we get off the road is a huge victory towards sustainability and reduced time spent in traffic.
How do you see teledriving solve some of our biggest challenges in urban mobility?
Presenting people with more affordable options compared to owning a car means they will think twice before buying one. Teledriving has the potential to be – after public transportation – one of the most affordable options there is.
How would you describe the culture at Vay?
Very international and hungry to grow. There are loads of super interesting conversations going on every day. It’s a very exciting time for the company!
How do you try to shape Vay’s culture?
I hope to make a difference and motivate more women to join the intersection of technology, mobility and sustainability. I look forward to helping out as many of our future new joiners as possible, so that we can grow together as one big team.