35 minutes | Sep 16th 2020

Building an Autonomous Future: Karl Iagnemma

Being the first in your field is never an easy hill to climb. Convincing investors that your idea is valid and has potential can often feel like a one-sided conversation. In the world of technology, this is made all the more complicated because the technology required can be so far into the future that it’s nearly impossible for people to conceptualize in the moment. With innovation and lack of imagination being such opposing forces, it takes a lot of courage to pioneer futuristic technology. Autonomous cars? Never. Right...? 

Join Ed Bernardon, host of The Future Car Podcast, in a discussion with Karl Iagnemma, President and CEO of the Hyundai + Aptiv Autonomous Driving joint venture. His belief in the future capabilities of technology helped fuel today’s thriving autonomous vehicle industry. 

We discuss his journey from an award-winning fiction writer to earning a Ph.D. at MIT, and how that led to founding nuTonomy in 2013. Karl provides valuable insights on autonomous cars from his diverse experience and talks about the early challenges of being a believer in the future of autonomous vehicles. If you listen to the end we also find time to discuss other important topics on the top of everyone’s mind, including if one day robot cars might fall in love!

Some Questions I Ask:

  • What was the inspiration that drove you to start nuTonomy? (2:06)
  • What were OEMs on the commercial side thinking in the early days of autonomous cars? (4:49)
  • If you look back on your days at nuTonomy, what were the most fun days the most challenging? (8:58)
  • What do you think was key to making you so successful? (11:01)
  • What can you tell us about the differences between deploying something in Las Vegas versus in Singapore? (16:16)
  • What are the plans for ultimately removing the human backup? (22:47)
  • How important is vehicle to vehicle communication going to be for autonomous cars to be successful? (27:12)

What You’ll Learn in this Episode:

  • Why Karl thought he was too late in starting his company back in 2013. (3:28)
  • The early skepticism that surrounded autonomous vehicles (5:54)
  • Karl’s experience as a startup founder (10:22)
  • The joint venture between Aptiv and Hyundai Motor Group (12:00)
  • How the automotive landscape has broadened through technology (14:21)
  • How to plan for the unexpected corner cases a vehicle might encounter (24:30)
  • How an early appreciation for writing influenced Karl’s future career in technology (30:45)

Connect with Karl Iagnemma:

Learn more about your host Ed Bernardon:


Recorded December 2019

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