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Navigating the evolving landscape of robotics, AI and self-driving cars

TechCrunch was proud to host Helm.ai at Disrupt 2023 in San Francisco. Here’s an overview of their partner session on the AI Stage.

What’s happening in robotics, artificial intelligence and autonomous navigation? In this session at TechCrunch Disrupt 2023, experts provided context and insights on a variety of fronts, including pure-play L4 and ADAS-first approaches for self-driving cars. Plus, they discussed the proliferation of AI-driven development beyond the automotive field, including mining, drones and the path toward robotics automation at large.


Gary Silberg, Partner and Global Automotive Sector Leader, KPMG

Gary is the firm’s National Automotive Industry leader, as well as the global lead partner for Ford Motor Company. Gary has 25+ years of business experience, including over 17 years in the automotive industry. For the past eight years, he has focused on the intersection of technology and the automotive industry with groundbreaking research on self-driving cars, connectivity and mobility demand services.

He has also worked on some of the most iconic, complex and strategic transactions in the industry. In particular, Gary has worked as an adviser to Ford Motor Company on a few of its most recent divestitures: Aston Martin, Jaguar/Land Rover, and Volvo and it’s recent multi-billion-dollar AV joint venture with Volkswagen. Gary has also advised Chrysler Corporation as part of its transaction with Fiat and is now working on the Peugeot/Fiat Chrysler transaction. He also has extensive knowledge and experience working with tier 1 automotive suppliers.

Vlad Voroninski, Co-founder and CEO, Helm.ai

Vlad Voroninski is the co-founder and CEO of Helm.ai, a software company building the next generation of AI technology for autonomous driving. Before founding Helm.ai, Vlad’s proficiency in mathematics and research earned him a prestigious academic career. After receiving his BS and MA degrees at UCLA, Vlad earned his PhD in mathematics at UC Berkeley. Throughout his tenure in academia Vlad published over 20 research articles in applied mathematics/machine learning and received multiple awards for his research, including the SIAM Outstanding Paper Prize and the NeurIPS Oral Presentation (top 30 out of 5,000 papers).

His research interests in computer vision, phase retrieval and deep learning later secured Vlad a faculty position at MIT in the Math Department, where he served for three years. In 2014, Vlad got his first taste of technology ventures as the founding chief scientist at Sift Security, a machine learning cybersecurity startup later acquired by the software company Netskope. In 2016, Vlad co-founded and became the CEO of Helm.ai.

Under Vlad’s stewardship, Helm.ai has seen numerous successes, including growing to over 70 employees, raising more than $80 million in venture capital and leading the vanguard of scalable deep learning technology for autonomous driving and robotics. Helm.ai has since attracted the attention of the likes of Honda Motor Company and other global companies in the automotive space, as well as earned its place at the forefront of machine learning technology.

Vitaly Golomb, Partner, Drake Star

Vitaly M. Golomb is a technology investment banker with over 20 years of experience on all sides of the table as a venture-backed CEO, venture capitalist, and M&A advisor. Vitaly is the San Francisco/Silicon Valley partner at Drake Star Partners, an award-winning global M&A investment bank. He has deep expertise in the transportation and mobility sector, in addition to experience in artificial intelligence, software/SaaS, and advanced materials. Vitaly has founded several companies and, throughout his career, was involved in dozens of financing, joint venturing, and M&A transactions across North America, Europe, and Asia.

Vitaly served as an adviser to Rimac Automobili (Bugatti Rimac), where he successfully secured its first major financing round and joint venture that established it as the world’s top brand in high-performance electric vehicles. Some of his other notable clients include Fisker, Taiga Motors, HyperloopTT, Damon Motorcycles, and Polaris.

Tarin Ziyaee, Neural Interfaces Research Manager

Tarin Ziyaee is a technologist and entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience in deep tech applied R&D. Previously, Tarin led and developed autonomous vehicle (AV) technology for Apple and U.S. Army Research Labs, and was CTO of Voyage (acquired by Cruise). Tarin’s previous DoD work included radar/sonar simulation, imaging, and perception algorithms, along with jamming/antijamming adaptive systems for the U.S. Army and Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC). Concurrently as CEO of NeuroSYS, he worked on developing neural spike-sorting algorithms for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to better understand the biological basis of the brain’s encoding of visual information. More recently, Tarin led the research engineering team at Meta’s Reality Labs designing neural interfaces, and was previously director of R&D at CTRL-Labs (acquired by Meta), where he and his team developed biophysics constrained neural interface decoding algorithms and systems. Tarin holds a BSEE from George Mason University (2004) and an MSEE from George Washington University (2007).