As head of Highly Automated Driving for HERE, Sanjay Sood is tackling one of the most complex technical challenges associated with driverless cars: helping them see what lies ahead and around obstacles.
For the next of our employee profiles, we chat with head of Highly Automated Driving, Sanjay Sood from our Chicago office.
He was recently recognized as one of the 50 most noteworthy and influential tech leaders in the Windy City by Crain’s Chicago Business. This esteemed list is comprised of the city's sweeping technology ecosystem: founders, CEOs, technologists, risk takers, investors and up-and-comers whose names you should know.
“Having my personal journey acknowledged by Crain’s Chicago Business is very meaningful to me, but as important, the recognition acknowledges the great work we are doing at HERE — a company that sits on the forefront in the automotive sector, creating a new future of driverless vehicles”
Please tell us about your role at HERE.
My team and I are building the highly precise, machine-readable HD Maps that self-driving cars will need to position themselves on the road, anticipate what’s coming and ensure a comfortable ride. Perfecting these capabilities is essential to an autonomous future.
We are inventing an entirely new product set that goes beyond current technology and what sensors on board a vehicle can see. It’s both a technical challenge and one of scale. Our goal is to create platforms for the entire industry and enable all OEMs to build safe and reliable autonomous vehicles.
What is your background and how did you end up at HERE?
I was always fascinated with information retrieval and machine learning and now hold 10 patents in these disciplines. During grad school at Northwestern University, where I earned a Ph.D., I was influenced by entrepreneurial-minded professors and joined my first startup in the Bay Area.
While, I appreciated the opportunity to conduct research, I always wanted to build things that would be used by people. So, I left academia to become the CTO of a startup, using technology I developed in grad school to help power a news site for citizen journalists.
From there I joined AT&T Interactive, which spun off to become YP, one of the largest local search and advertising companies in the U.S. Scale was also a core challenge in running the consumer platforms at YP, where we connected millions of users to local businesses and serviced 70 million unique visitors each month.
Getting back to my roots, a move to Chicago afforded me the opportunity to join HERE in 2014, where I began by running the Core Map Engineering team within Core Map. I became head of Highly Automated Driving three months ago.
What inspires you about the work you are doing at HERE?
The recognition by Crain’s Business Chicago is meaningful to me, but as important, the recognition acknowledges the great work we are doing at HERE — a company that sits on the forefront in the automotive sector, creating a new future of driverless vehicles.
HERE has a tremendous heritage, great customers, talent and innovations. The company has significantly moved the navigation industry forward and self-driving cars will be an extension of that heritage. I am excited to keep pushing the envelope of what technology can do