AEye Team Profile: Aravind Ratnam

On September 17th, AEye’s VP of Product Management, Aravind Ratnam, will lead the roundtable discussion Rethinking the Three “Rs” of LiDAR: Rate, Resolution and Range, and on the 18th, he will give a talk called Moving ADAS Past the Tipping Point at AutoSens Brussels in Belgium.

In addition, on October 3rd, Aravind will lead the webinar, Rethinking the Three “Rs” of LiDAR: Rate, Resolution and Range, hosted by TU-Automotive. 

Aravind Ratnam leads product management at AEye, where he is responsible for product strategy, requirements, roadmap, content and specifications. Prior to AEye, Aravind led product management at the Connected Vehicle Solutions business unit of Wind River, a ~$1B acquisition of Intel. He also led corporate strategy at Wind River, garnering recognition for his tight business model framing in autonomous driving, cybersecurity, edge analytics and related areas. Aravind is a sought-after speaker in the automotive space and holds advanced graduate degrees in Space Science from Florida Tech, as well as in Management and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

We sat down with Aravind to learn more about “Perception 2.0,” his near-term vision for widespread autonomous vehicle (AV) deployment, his first impressions of fatherhood, and his favorite places to travel.

Q: In your mind, what is “Perception 2.0”

“Perception 2.0” is all about finding smarter ways of achieving current perception goals. This means being able to search, acquire and act (i.e., clean up, fuse, detect, classify, track, and decide on a course of action) in a manner that is: faster, cheaper (without needing to invest in large server class GPUs), easier to configure through transparent SDK interfaces, meets the automotive industry’s functional safety standards, and is more efficient overall.

Q: In 5 years, it’ll be 2025 – What will the industry look like then? How broadly do you think AVs will be deployed on public roads?

I believe that Level 2 ADAS features will be mainstream by 2025 and may include LiDAR, as automakers realize its value in corner cases in which camera and radar cannot adequately address. At this time, Level 3 ADAS features will be on the brink of mainstream production, led by major innovators like General Motors and Daimler. By 2025, Level 4 vehicles that include LiDAR will no longer be in the pilot stage and we will begin to see broader adoption beyond just a few major cities. Oh, and by this time, Elon Musk will have issued a press statement changing his mind about LiDAR.

Q: You’ve just had your one year anniversary at AEye – what brought you here and what continues to inspire you?

Personally, I tend to choose who I work for and with, rather than where I work. I also believe in moving fast, keeping the “do/talk” ratio high, and being world class in every aspect of my work.

The team at AEye has been inspirational to me in every way – extremely intelligent, dedicated, hard working, and constantly looking for ways to improve. It may sound strange to some, but I do dream of work. Every morning, I am ready to go with a fresh challenge to take on. Over the past year, we have evolved into a true product company, and it’s been an amazing experience to be one of the primary drivers of that evolution. At AEye, I don’t mind putting in the extra hours – we are onto something amazing here and being a core part of that journey is what continues to inspire me.

Q: You recently became a father – how has it changed your life?

I’d say the last year has been among the best I’ve ever had. I’ve always enjoyed taking ideas from the ground up, running with them, creating, and inspiring my team to do amazing things. But the notion of responsibility is heightened to a whole new level when you become a father. It makes you stronger, yet more tender and caring – attributes that are fundamental to leadership.

Q: You are also a world traveler – what is your favorite place to visit and why?

Yes, I’ve been around! For me, it’s a close tie between Florence and Kyoto. Both of these cities have amazing history and great food. But I also love my getaways to Yosemite for its spectacular views and dark skies because I enjoy astronomy in my free time.

Connect with AEye at AutoSens Brussels and register for Aravind’s October 3rd webinar hosted by TU-Automotive here.