Make it Simple
Dataspeed produces a drive-by-wire kit for companies doing research and development in the autonomous vehicle space. Dataspeed’s kit allows auto manufacturers, sensor makers, software developers, and others focused on autonomy to control the steering, braking, shifting, and acceleration in vehicles electronically. A true first mover with hundreds of customers, Dataspeed’s technology has found wide acceptance.
Building a system that is an important part of what Greg calls “the autonomy stack” is not simple. Aside from the amount of code required to effectively tell a vehicle how fast to go and when to turn (not to mention the machine learning required to support “perception”), Dataspeed also has had to solve for interactions with a wide array of vehicle platforms and sensor types. That they are the go-to solution in their industry speaks to how well they have succeeded in mastering this complexity.
“The drive-by-wire kit was the start of our work but that’s not all we provide because we’ve moved up the food chain. We integrate sensors and do actual autonomous development ourselves, converting vehicles not to full-blown autonomy, it’s not there yet, but to limited autonomy. In other words, we’re developing the software stack and using our own drive-bywire kit to build autonomous vehicles.”
– Greg Fleck, Chief Operating Officer, Dataspeed
In Greg’s view, what has driven the broad adoption of Dataspeed’s technology is the high level of vehicle control it provides. “I think the reason the product reached a level of market acceptance is this: It controls the vehicle very well. When a developer sends a message to turn the wheel or whatever, it does it smoothly and consistently every time. And that’s ultimately what an engineer or developer wants—to not have any issues.”
“Ultimately, it’s the simplicity of it, though it’s not so simple because there are tens of thousands of lines of code in there.”
For an innovation to be adopted, a company has to design and manufacture a product in a way that is commercially viable. It also needs to be able to scale up to meet demand. But there is something else that makes an innovation “sticky”: a strong user experience.
Greg touched on several key components of such a user experience. The product needs to perform as advertised. And it needs to do so reliably. But above all, it needs to be simple to use. All the product innovations we have discussed solve complicated problems and are themselves complicated to manufacture. But beyond this, they all have something else in common: a user-centric design that aims to drive adoption through simplicity