Vehicles of The Future: Crijn Bouman Of Rocsys On The Leading Edge Technologies That Are Making Cars & Trucks Smarter, Safer, and More Sustainable
An Interview With David Leichner
The automotive industry has been disrupted recently with new exciting technologies that have made cars and trucks much smarter, much safer, and much more sustainable and more environmentally friendly.
What other exciting disruptive technologies will we see in the next few years? How much longer will fossil fuel powered cars be produced? When will we see fully autonomous vehicles? Can we overcome the challenge of getting stuck in traffic? As cars become “moving computers”, do we have to worry about people hacking our cars? How else will our driving experience be different over the next five years? Authority Magazine started a new interview series about “Exciting Leading Edge Technologies That Are Making Cars & Trucks Smarter, Safer, and More Sustainable.” In this series we are talking to leaders of automotive companies, automotive tech companies, EV companies, and other tech leaders who can talk about the vehicles of the future. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Crijn Bouman.
Crijn Bouman, a Dutch entrepreneur, is passionate about high-tech solutions that contribute to a sustainable future. He serves as CEO & co-founder of Rocsys, founded in 2019, which develops autonomous charging solutions for electric fleets in public transportation, logistics, seaports and airports, material handling, and passenger cars.
With a mission to accelerate the transition to electric mobility, in 2005 Crijn co-founded Epyon, which offered fast-charging solutions for electric cars and a unique web-connected charging management solution. Multinational ABB acquired the company in 2011. He continued at ABB to expand the business as the global VP Product Line Management and build a product portfolio of chargers for the various market segments in 50+ countries. Crijn studied “Integrated Product Design” at Delft University of Technology and graduated (MSc with honors) on a hydrogen-electric scooter design, which the international press widely covered.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started in the automotive industry?
Iaccidentally got involved in the automotive industry with the founding of my first company Epyon right out of university. We made fast charging equipment for electric cars, which was at that time quite advanced — way ahead of the market. There were almost no electric cars on the road those days but in terms of timing we were in a perfect place. For the electric cars that were on the road, we made the charging equipment. We stumbled upon an opportunity to enter the automotive industry and quickly started engaging in projects with big automakers for charging their electric vehicles, which were in the R & D stage of development. The next step was the founding of Rocsys, the first company in the world making charging autonomous through robotics and artificial intelligence.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
There is a massive deployment of charging equipment in the United States. The design of which started quite literally on a napkin. It was the 4th of July, and we had a customer at our equipment manufacturing site outside of Florence, Italy. The customers were giving live feedback of the hardware design of the newest high-power chargers. A very quick napkin drawing led to the materialization of the thousands of chargers deployed along American highways. In a matter of one year from napkin design to full-scale deployment you can see the changes in the automotive industry and how quickly it is moving.
Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell our readers about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
We recently announced a significant project at the Port of Oakland, where we are autonomously charging electric yard tractors, which are critical components to the handling of containers. The port is incredibly busy with intense processes for loading and unloading containers to and from ships and moving containers to their storage location. We are working with SSA Marine — the largest independently owned port operator in the United States. It is one of the most interesting projects because it is a significant professional application. On the other end of the spectrum, we are also working with autonomous vehicle companies developing autonomous vehicles. It is exciting to see our technology deployed in these future offerings.
How do you think this might change the world?
I believe autonomous charging will change the world in that it will become one of those tasks that you no longer have to think about as a driver or as an operator. Autonomous charging will become something that just happens. You do not have to plan for it but assume it will happen. It is one less stressor in the day for an individual, one less stressor for the operator and will help integrate the grid to the vehicle and commercial property or building to the vehicle. It will enable connection if there is ever any type of emergency, and you need access to battery power.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks of this technology that people should think more deeply about?
I think EVs are going to take off extremely fast and it also means that some people may be left behind with the new developments. There will be people still driving gas cars. The challenge becomes the impact of not everyone making the transition. In time, they will. Personally, I would like to see concerted efforts made that ensure that everybody can switch to electric cars as soon as possible.
What are a few things that most excite you about the automotive industry as it is today? Why?
The most exciting thing is the volume of change — everything is going electric, the future of autonomous vehicles, and the development of each on parallel tracks. Supply chains are facing disruption. I expect major paradigm shifts that will open the window for young, competitive players in the EV market, which was not the case in the last 50 years. Take ride sharing and shared mobility companies, there are innovative technologies from smaller companies and mature organizations used across the industry. The momentum now compared to 50 years ago is extraordinary.
What are a few things that most concern you about the automotive industry as it is today? What must be done to address these challenges?
There is still a strong legacy approach to thinking. And now within automotive, across big industrial conglomerates, there’s focus on the many elements effecting change. The speed of change is faster than we may realize but, in the end, it is a cultural shift in the automotive industry that will impact the speed of innovation. There has been a great deal of change in the last 50 years, but the next 10 years will see greater change especially as cultural adjustments take hold.
Based on your vantage point as an insider in the automotive industry, what other exciting disruptive technologies will we see in the next few years? Can you share some of the new developments that will make vehicles smarter, safer, and more sustainable?
We see all major car makers working on automated valet parking — drive your car to the parking lot or garage and let the vehicle do the parking. Instead of spending 15 minutes to put a car somewhere inside the parking structure, the driver leaves the vehicle at the entrance and the car parks itself. All the premium car makers are working on this. Such functionality will increase the level of service and transfer the car more into a mobility solution rather than just another vehicle.
I also believe that autonomous and autonomous assisting functions in vehicles will make vehicles safer. That will become a benchmark of service and capabilities. This is not too dissimilar to what happened in air travel with autopilot, which now makes piloting a plane much safer with innovative, computer-driven technologies that support the mechanical aspects of flight. We will see the same autonomous functions supporting drivers and improving auto travel safety. That is an exciting development that will happen this decade — it will be a breakthrough.
In your opinion, how much longer will fossil fuel powered cars be produced? When do you think EVs will be the majority of vehicles in use? Can you explain?
Two decades. In the western world I think electric vehicles after 2030 will eliminate gas-powered vehicles. They will not be able to compete because the economies of scale of electric vehicles is better when produced in volume. Over the last couple of years, the volume of EV production has not been great enough to reach parity. After 2030 there is no chance for competing for gas cars — it will start to make sense over the next decade. The residual values of gas cars will decrease. People will question the resale value and increase the speed of EV adoption. By the end of the decade, it will be an obvious choice to buy an electric vehicle.
By the end of this decade, EVs may not be most vehicles in use but of vehicles sold, EVs will be the majority, for sure.
When do you think we will see fully autonomous vehicles deployed in a mainstream way? What do you think are the main barriers to reaching that stage?
The main barriers are legislation. There soon will be sufficient proof that autonomous vehicles are safer than humans, which creates the support for this technology in the mainstream use case. However, it depends on what you mean by mainstream. During this decade we will see autonomous vehicles deployed in a significant manner. I see 2030 as the tipping point to real mass market adoption.
How else will our driving experience be different over the next five years?
People will look at cars more from a mobility service point of view. And there will be less emphasis on the status of owning a car. The driving experience will converge more toward shared mobility. It will not mean people will not own a car, but they share it with people in their neighborhood or with people from a certain community. The driving experience will include more automated functions. More electric vehicles and less dependency on fossil fuels. The driving experience will become more pleasant — easier, smooth, more enjoyable because of nice gadgets and functions.
My expertise is in product security, so I’m particularly interested in this question. Recently there were famous cases of hackers breaking into the software running automobiles, for ransomware or for other malicious purposes. Based on your experience, what should auto companies do to uncover vulnerabilities in the development process to safeguard their vehicles?
The main point is that from the day one of developing a vehicle you must take this into account. It must be at the root of the vehicle’s design. However, car makers typically do not come from a software background but a hardware background. That is a completely new challenge. Industry must take security as a priority from the first moment of design. They must consider designing for security and making sure that the software on the vehicle is secure. It is in the root of the design.
In recent times, many auto manufacturers have introduced over-the-air (OTA) services that can potentially give hackers an entry point into the inner systems of the vehicles. Based on your experience, what can vehicle manufacturers do to respond to cyber attacks?
Auto manufacturers should work together in developing systems to prevent hackers’ entry points. It should be collaborative for a shared outcome, rather than it being a selling point of a vehicle.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Automotive Industry?
Remain authentic — close to the person you are — and be an independent thinker. I see too many people trying to emulate the behavior of others — those that are not their own typically. Authenticity is a win: win situation for all involved. Inauthentic behaviors and thinking cause disconnects. Stepping away from that which you hold close impedes your ability to deliver quality results. I believe, the best contributions to the world come from people who remain close to their authentic self and find a way to channel this in their careers. It is the key to an exceptional career, and the best outcome for the world.
It is a complex industry. To understand how to penetrate barriers or secure adoption, you must spend time understanding the position of each stakeholder in the field. Without this understanding, it is difficult to make the right judgment of where to move within the automotive industry.
Questions to consider: What is the playing field? What are the microbes, the large strands, the smaller trends, etc.? What is the position of each individual player in effect in the value chain?
The second thing is stamina. As I said, the automotive industry is enormous. For consumers, it is flashy and sexy. But it is a large industry with massive stakes. It is not always fast moving in terms of development, speed, etc. Stamina is key to continue work, projects, etc. We need not walk away with the first setback; it is a long road always in automotive.
Networking is also important. This is basic but important. Connecting with people offers learning opportunities, inspiration, and understanding. Connecting with people in the automotive industry, which is facing disruption, is challenging as people are changing positions quickly. Stay connected. You may find better alignment working with somebody in a new context. It is how you develop valuable relationships and establish connections with peers who may come to you in their new role.
Centering the user experience is valuable. There are many options — features, functions, gadgets — that appeal to varied individuals. Understand how a driver, operator, or fleet owner will interact with your solution and ensure that it is straightforward and pleasant to use. At the end of the day, a positive user experience could make or break your solution.
Finally, understanding industry development and progress will help those developing solutions for the automotive industry. Keep your eye on where the industry is going — it is clearly electric and autonomous.
An example that frames this thinking: we were at a car manufacturer to explain the vision of charging electric vehicles. They were not onboard with EVs and believed their combustion engines would be so good that there was no chance for electric vehicles. About three years later, they invited us back. They had changed their thinking — they embraced the notion that electric-powered vehicles are the future. They considered us absolute experts. My advice: continue to share your vision, speak the truth and rest assured when the right time presents itself your vision will come to fruition.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Within this context, I hope to inspire everybody to abandon gas cars for electric. It will make the world a safer and nicer place. With an electric car you are connecting closer to nature. You start to think about where electricity comes from. It may inspire you to think about installing solar panels onto your house, for example. You start to connect with nature and better understand that nature is at the center of our daily lives. I fully support a movement where all cars are electric and powered by the sun.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.
About The Interviewer:
David Leichner is a veteran of the Israeli high-tech industry with significant experience in the areas of cyber and security, enterprise software and communications. At Cybellum, a leading provider of Product Security Lifecycle Management, David is responsible for creating and executing the marketing strategy and managing the global marketing team that forms the foundation for Cybellum’s product and market penetration. Prior to Cybellum, David was CMO at SQream and VP Sales and Marketing at endpoint protection vendor, Cynet. David is the Chairman of the Friends of Israel and Member of the Board of Trustees of the Jerusalem Technology College. He holds a BA in Information Systems Management and an MBA in International Business from the City University of New York.