Discover the Rising Stars №005｜ Interview with PIX Moving Founder Angelo Yu
“Intelligent” technology isn’t just disrupting traditional industries, it’s also helping to inaugurate and define a new era in automobile manufacturing. Established auto manufacturers are moving their focus from “gearboxes and engines” to “software + algorithms”. The fifth installment of Discover the Rising Stars interviews 2021 CACSC & BMW Group “Internet of Vehicles” Global Finals Third Place winner and PIX Moving founder Angelo Yu about the “industry transformation” taking place in auto manufacturing.
Singular Vision, From Drones to Automobiles
Angelo Yu has always loved programming and has accumulated 17 patents in the fields of robotics and smart manufacturing. In 2011 he won a National Cloud Computing Competition and decided to try to commodify and market some of his ideas. In 2012 he entered the drone market and raised USD 570,000 for his Hexbot on Kickstarter, ranking 1st in Asia and selling in over 100 countries worldwide. This was the first incarnation of PIX Moving. Yu Chuan’s background in architecture helped him think about the value of robots for a city, and he saw the potential for smart cars as moving spaces.
The auto industry was new territory for Yu and it was difficult to understand at first, but precisely because he didn’t understand it he was able to free himself from traditional ways of thinking.
Yu took a new approach and asked himself whether or not traditional automobile manufacturing was actually optimal. And if not, how can it be optimized so as to disrupt old ways of thinking and inspire new products? He shifted his focus toward building a standard chassis for autonomous cars. As Yu sees it, in the future cars will not just be transportation tools, but individual intelligent terminals and mobile spaces that will form the basis of smart cities. And smart chassis is the foundation of these moving spaces.
Abundant Talent, Limitless Innovation
These were his long term goals. Next came figuring out how to make them a reality.
“Having the right talent is crucial for technological innovation, and we needed real technology ‘geeks’,” says Yu. So as soon as he had formulated his goal he started recruiting. Interestingly, PIX’s ‘geek’ flag attracted a diverse and open-minded international team that makes for a vibrant, global corporate culture.
PIX currently employs over 100 people, including international employees from Italy, India and Japan and many engineers from Silicon Valley and leading companies who have chosen to work for PIX Moving. Yu believes that “Our approach to technological innovation is more concerned with our team’s personal values and worldview, and whether they can look at a problem from different angles and come up with unique new value and products.”
PIX Moving will always keep this open-mindedness and give engineers freedom in their research. These are the qualities that help create unexpected designs and that make PIX such an exceptional and innovative company.
Explosive Customer Demand: the Good and the Bad
Yu Chuan remembers the difficult early days of PIX Moving when the company only had a dozen employees. The company had to be very “conservative” with resources, but it was still very “extravagant” in terms of creativity. Yu has always thought that “ecosystems are constantly cycling and upgrading, and markets are dynamic, as is technology. They are always changing. And companies need to survive in order to keep making better products.”
With this in mind, the whole team is fearless in the face of the challenges of corporate growth and the difficulties that come with technological innovation. It’s this attitude that allows PIX Moving to keep creating one successful product after another. With the PIXBOT for example PIX created a complete L4 level autonomous driving system including high definition maps, navigation, sensing, route planning, and decision making. PIXBOT enables flexible mobility, allowing users in different fields to use the chassis to develop their own autonomous driving robots. This gets innovation to market without high R&D costs. In the first six months, it was already being used in 8 countries including Switzerland, the USA and Italy.
Cutting edge technology like this naturally attracts lots of attention from other companies, and this spurred adoption of PIX Moving products in a wide variety of environments. PIX has recently partnered with a Chinese company that specializes in autonomous mining vehicles, for example. PIX currently supplies more industries than any other low to medium speed indoor outdoor autonomous driving solution provider, including electric trucking, agriculture, forestry, patrol, transportation, logistics, electric power, petroleum, real estate, and air transport, nearly 20 in all. Working with large partners to create comprehensive solutions solves practical problems. But the large and ever increasing number of orders started to overwhelm the company’s capabilities and create considerable pressure. “We’re going through a very important shift to mass production, and we have to keep pushing forward and stake our claim to this new market share for orderly growth.”
Bursting onto the Scene at the CACSC Finals
At the 2021 CACSC & BMW Group “Internet of Vehicles” Global Finals PIX Moving won third prize. “100 years ago there was no venture capital, so brilliant engineers used contests to develop their cars and ultimately change the way our cities work. Today the inventors of smart cars are also learning from each other in these contests, which will help drive the development of smart cars and intelligent traffic systems. We hope that PIX can work with Alibaba to create more opportunities for autonomous transport, and work together on smart city projects to drive the development of the industry as a whole,” says Yu.
Since joining the Alibaba Cloud Accelerator PIX has worked with Alibaba Cloud on smart city and autonomous driving projects, and PIX has provided DAMO Academy with autonomous vehicle chassis for testing. Collaborative work on autonomous transport continues. Using Alibaba’s vehicle network cloud scheduling platform, databases, and OTA upgrades, PIX and Alibaba are developing a variety of integrated technology and products, including autonomous vehicle cloud scheduling platforms, autonomous vehicle component retail transport and payment systems, and autonomous patrol vehicle testing AI algorithms.
Future plans include standardized low speed functional autonomous vehicles for use in tourist areas, factories, and parks. On May 11 at the Alibaba Cloud Accelerator Innovation Time Changsha venue, PIX was awarded the Alibaba Cloud Accelerator “Star Innovator” award.
It’s clear that PIX Moving autonomous vehicle hardware platforms have created a multi-functional automobile application ecosystem that will make us rethink urban mobility. It’s like the transition from traditional mobile phones to smart phones: not long from now “cars” will not be transportation tools, but integrated living, entertainment, multimedia smart terminals.