Alex Rodrigues, CEO and co-founder of Embark, was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Robotics and self-driving cars have been his passion since childhood, so starting his company was the realization of a dream. Embark is located in San Francisco, California, with additional offices in Ontario, California. The company was founded in 2016. Currently, it's the oldest in its industry. Although many people may think the company wants to replace the current trucking model, its goal is to make it easier on drivers and address the declining number of people who are doing this job. Rodrigues is focused on making the roads safer and helping people receive necessities in a more efficient manner. These are ten things you may not know about Alex Rodrigues.
1. Cooking up an idea
Throughout his life, Rodrigues has been fascinated with robots. When he was fourteen, his drive helped him create his first robot. According to Electric Autonomy, a three-foot-tall droid named Muffins shot hockey pucks across the field. His robot won the grand prize in 2009 at the world robotics championship.
After high school, he went to the University of Waterloo, where he met Embark's future CTO, Brandon Moak. Before they started the company, they built a golf cart that drove itself. It was Canada's first self-driving vehicle. According to Forbes, the pair took their idea to Silicon Valley and met with Kyle Vogt, founder, and CEO of Cruise Automation. The trio shared a common interest in robotics. Voght wanted Rodrigues and Moak to work for his company. They declined and instead left college and charted their entrepreneurial path.
3. Business plan
According to Biz Journals, while he waited for a tow truck, Rodrigues began drafting his company's business plan. He was stranded on the side of the road for several hours. In the meantime, he observed numerous signs on the backs of 18-wheelers indicating a decline in the trucking industry. A dawning realization dawned on him that, by developing technology that would allow trucks to drive themselves, he could make a significant dent in the problem of truck drivers being overworked. Embark's technology would allow drivers to focus on short hauls enabling them to be home with their families.
4. Safety first
Even though Rodrigues is passionate about his work, he recognizes that there are many skeptics. One of the things he is most dedicated to is ensuring that all of his trucks pass a slew of safety tests before being put into service. He is working closely with various partners, including Audi's self-driving team, to ensure that everyone is safe on the road with AI-driven eighteen-wheelers.
Even though his company is one of the most innovative concepts n the world, Rodrigues understands you don't have to reinvent the wheel on every project. He doesn't cross over from his passion for robots and revolutionizes the trucking industry to help with public relations or legal tasks. Instead, he maintains a singular focus and trusts people who are experts in their fields, much like he hopes people will trust him as his company grows and expands.
6. Believe in yourself
According to Sequoia, Rodrigues believes the most important thing for a future entrepreneur is to believe in your idea. Additionally, he feels that people who want to create their startups need to think like experts in their chosen industry. Rodrigues also believes in visualizations. He advises future entrepreneurs to close their eyes, picture themselves at each step of their goals, and think they will be there.
7. Minutes count
Rodrigues feels that part of his success is because he uses his time effectively. He has stopped using multiple apps on his phone, including Facebook, and only uses his phone for emails, photos, or phone calls. Additionally, feeling that 25 minutes, a Pomodoro is the most crucial amount of time. He's known for turning his phone off and concentrates for that length of time because he feels that regardless of what you are doing or who needs you, everything will be fine in that half-hour of focus.
8. Charting success
He is always focused on the future. Embark currently has a handful of trucks on the road which are operating between Phoenix and Los Angeles. They are also beginning to generate revenue for hauling freight with companies like Electrolux. However, Rodrigues has more extensive plans. He feels confident that the company will soon operate coast to coast with one hundred trucks. He's working on technology to give each of the 18 wheelers laser lidar sensors, cameras, and Embark's software. Additionally, he wants this software to be licensed to existing trucking companies, empowering them to create their own fleets. According to Forbes, "trucking is a core piece of the U.S. economy. Trucks move more than 70% of goods," Rodrigues says. "So if you can improve trucking, that really matters."
9. Seeing the future
Rodrigues discussed his love of robots and his desire to see self-driving cars in an interview with Medium. He believes he will help restructure the current transportation industry creating a different landscape in 30 years. Furthermore, he believes that pods will replace many two and four-person vehicles. Besides this, there will be a transportation network that is entirely reliant on smartphones. He also thinks that public transportation will be phased out and that cargo and freight planes will be obsolete.
10. Mission focused
Although Rodrigues is optimistic about the future of his company, he knows that many people think the industry sounds like the plot line from a Stephen King novel. When he speaks to people closely aligned with his company, he encourages them to ignore the negativity and stay focused on the future while evolving with ever-changing technology. According to Medium, the companies mission is rooted in "technology, safety, jobs, and efficiency." Rodrigues is committed to the safety and quality of life for truck drivers while reducing the current trucking model's environmental impact on our planet.
Written by Allen Lee
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