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BlackBerry QNX and MotorTrend Honor Winners of First Software-Defined Vehicle Innovator Awards

AUTOMOTIVE / 01.10.23 / Steve Kovsky

The future of the automotive industry is software-defined. That’s why BlackBerry QNX partnered with MotorTrend to develop a new awards category to honor a new class of trailblazers, technology leaders, and domain experts: the Software Defined Vehicle Innovator Awards.

MotorTrend announced the winners during an inaugural gala at CES 2023 in Las Vegas. Created in partnership with BlackBerry, MotorTrend’s SDVI Awards is a first-of-its-kind program designed to recognize the software-centric paradigm shift in automotive technology — and the people behind it, who are personally responsible for helping transform the industry. The goal of the program is to celebrate those outstanding individuals who are redefining how we design, build, drive, and experience cars.

“Most of the leaders in this space have worked quietly behind the scenes creating a new class of automobiles that is igniting the imaginations of today’s drivers and passengers,” said MotorTrend Head of Editorial Ed Loh during a panel last September at the 2022 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. “These individuals are changing more than the cars we drive today and the ones that may be driving us in the not-too-distant future. These pioneering engineers and executives are also remaking the industry itself — one car, one company, and one codebase at a time.”

From a nominations pool of 40 industry standouts, winners were chosen by MotorTrend's panel of editors and recognized in three categories: Pioneers, Leaders, and Domain Experts.

Image: SDVI Pioneer category award winners (Source: MotorTrend)

Pioneer Award Winners

These outstanding individuals were chosen based on having demonstrably broken new ground within the SDV space, through research, development, and application of new automotive software.

  • Drago Anguelov (Head of Waymo Research, Waymo), for his pioneering research in autonomous driving systems.

  • Yves Bonnefont (Chief Software Officer, Stellantis), for his work in bringing cutting-edge software systems to 14 brands of a major automotive multinational.

  • Craig Carlson (CTO and co-CEO at Carbon, Carbon), for the electronic systems in the world's first SDVs, the Tesla Roadster and Model S.

  • Doug Field (Chief Advanced Product Development and Technology Officer, Ford Motor Co.), for his pioneering work at Segway, GM, Tesla, Apple, and now Ford.

  • Dave Nesbitt (Director of Digital Platform Products, Jaguar Land Rover), for his work in bringing cutting-edge infotainment, OTA (over the air), and apps, affecting two of the most storied British brands.

  • Prof. Amnon Shashua (Founder, President, and CEO, Mobileye), for his seminal work applying computer vision in ADAS systems.

  • Lei Zhang (Global VP, Digital Cockpit and Software Development, Nio), for his pioneering work in digital cockpit and artificial intelligence assistants.

Image: SDVI Leader category award winners (Source: MotorTrend)

Leader Award Winners

These outstanding individuals are in a senior management position, leading a team that is working to transform the automotive industry through the broad adoption and application of software solutions.

  • Hyung Ki Ahn (Vice President, Head of Electronics Development Group, Hyundai Motor Group), for leading electronics development, including adding connectivity to face and fingerprint recognition as part of the creation of a new software-defined vehicle platform.

  • Steve Basra (Group VP of Connected Technologies at Toyota Motor North America, Toyota Connected North America), for his leading work on Toyota Connected, occupant safety, and advances in natural speech assistant.

  • Wendy Bauer (General Manager, AWS Automotive, AWS at Amazon), for helping the industry unlock the power of data by using cloud technology to accelerate digital transformation of the automotive sector.

  • Wassym Bensaid (Senior Vice President of Software Development, Rivian), for leading the development of a new, “from-scratch” automotive software platform to power the world’s first electrified pickup truck.

Image: SDVI Leader category award winners (Source: MotorTrend)
  • Nakul Duggal (Senior Vice President & General Manager, Automotive, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.).

  • Magnus Östberg (Chief Software Officer, Mercedes-Benz AG), for his work driving MB OS and "Hey Mercedes," and creating a massive new Electric Software hub with more than 1,100 experts.

  • Darren Palmer (Vice President, Electric Vehicle Programs, Ford Model e, Ford Motor Co.), for his push to EVs, from Team Edison to the Ford Mach-E architecture, followed by the F-150 Lightning, and more electric vehicle programs to come.

  • Maarten Sierhuis (Vice President and Alliance Global Director, Nissan Alliance Innovation Lab - Silicon Valley). 

  • Sarah Tariq (Vice President of Autonomous Driving Software, Nvidia), for her work on Nvidia's AI and level 4 autonomous technology for next-generation fleet vehicles, and as a champion of greater mobility for all.

Image: SDVI Domain Expert category award winners (Source: MotorTrend)

Domain Expert Award Winners

These outstanding individuals are subject matter experts within a specific SDV discipline (e.g., advanced driver assistance systems, digital cockpit, over-the-air updates, autonomous driving, etc.).

  • Neda Cvijetic (SVP, Head of Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Driving, Stellantis), for her work driving the in-house development of artificial intelligence and autonomous driving software and hardware, and for consumer and commercial applications across 14 different brands.

  • Jim Morgan (Chief Engineer Connected Diagnostics & Quality EESE - Diagnostics, Jaguar Land Rover), for his work in digital cockpit, OTA, and delivering next-generation digital luxury.

  • Dave Tsai (Vice President of Engineering, Toyota Connected North America, Toyota Connected North America), for his work bringing safety and telematics systems in-house, saving hundreds of millions of dollars, while increasing uptime.

The Software-Defined Age

Automobiles now run on more code than a modern fighter jet, by some estimates, and by 2030, 50% of new vehicle revenue will be from software, according to McKinsey. This represents a sea change in the automotive industry, and BlackBerry is proud to join with MotorTrend to recognize these first-generation SDV champions, busily shaping the future of transportation.

To accentuate the fundamental importance of software-defined vehicles to the future of the automotive industry, and the contributions of these pioneers, leaders, and experts, please watch this short documentary, “Coding the Car,” produced by MotorTrend Studios (below).

Steve Kovsky

About Steve Kovsky

Steve Kovsky is former Editorial Director at BlackBerry.