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Quora’s director of engineering just joined a self-driving startup

Kah Seng Tay will be heading up engineering at autonomous tech startup Drive.ai.

Drive.ai
Drive.ai

Drive.ai, a self-driving startup that recently closed a $12 million round of funding, just hired its first ever director of engineering. The company, which is using deep learning to power its self-driving system, has tapped Quora’s director of engineering, Kah Seng Tay, to head up its engineering efforts.

Tay, who is leaving Quora after six years, will be focused on recruiting and building out Drive.ai’s team which is now at around 60 people. The MIT graduate was employee 17 at Quora and says he had a big hand in building out the company’s engineering team.

“I played a personal role in the recruiting initiatives and strategies to grow the team [at Quora],” Tay told Recode. “Quora’s engineering team grew 10x [during] my time there.”

While the transition from a question-and-answer site to an autonomous tech startup seems confusing, Tay says both companies require creating the infrastructure to analyze large amounts of data using different kinds of machine learning.

Drive.ai CEO Sameep Tandon says the company’s goal is to develop the brains of a self-driving car that scales easily across geographies.

To do that, the company employs deep learning algorithms to be able to analyze and recognize images in real time the way that a human brain does.

Many self-driving systems use other types of machine learning that often require manually programming rules that the algorithm uses to determine what an object is.

“Not to pick on Google too much, but after 10 or so years they’re only in four or five cities,” Tandon said. “It just goes to show how hard it is for companies to build technologies that can scale geographically.”

The startup initially is focused on creating kits that would be retrofitted to specific makes and models of vehicles in the hope of striking deals with ride-share, delivery and other commercial fleets of cars.

“[Initially we’re focused on] how quickly we can get our autonomous solution working on the routes that [the fleets] care about,” Tandon said. “Whether it’s warehouse to warehouse or a delivery service [in one] neighborhood.”

Ultimately, the company hopes to integrate its hardware and software suite into the production of vehicles for which Drive.ai will have to land deals with automakers.


This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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