A frequent topic on these pages concerns Silicon Valley and its ongoing attempt to disrupt the car industry. But over in Europe, a former Ferrari F1 engineer has some thoughts of his own on the matter and thinks his company—Cogisen—has a better way of doing things. Christiaan Erik Rijnders spent several years in the early 2000s working on Ferrari’s simulator, simulations, and vehicle dynamics, during which time Ferrari utterly dominated the sport.
Through that work, he absorbed a few important lessons on the way successful R&D programs should run, and they’re lessons he’s been applying more recently to the problem of image processing. In particular, Cogisen has some very cool gaze-tracking algorithms (earning the startup a Horizon 2020 grant from the European Union) that may have an important role to play in autonomous vehicles. We spoke to Rijnders recently to find out more about his time at the Scuderia and to talk about where he thinks most traditional tech startups are going wrong.
“On the inside [of Ferrari], it was everything it was cracked up to be; you really got to see what proper engineering is and proper management is,” he told Ars. “You’d have world-class engineers who were all very strong in theoretical fundamentals of what engineering is, who would all share data in a climate where risk taking was encouraged, where nobody was afraid to make decisions and they were made very well, especially on a strategic level by Ross Brawn, on a political level by Jean Todt, and on a technical level by Rory Byrne.”