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MotorTrend and BlackBerry Honor Winners of Second Annual Software-Defined Vehicle Innovator Awards

AUTOMOTIVE / 01.17.24 / Steve Kovsky

The future of the automotive industry will be increasingly software-defined. That’s why BlackBerry® QNX® partnered with MotorTrend again this year to honor a new class of trailblazers, technology leaders, and domain experts, through the Software-Defined Vehicle (SDV) Innovator Awards.

Last week at CES 2024 in Las Vegas, MotorTrend announced winners at the annual awards gala. The SDV Innovator Awards represent a first-of-its-kind program that recognizes 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.

“There's a lot of talk about how EVs are taking over, but a much larger transformation is already underway in the automotive industry, regardless of powertrain,” says MotorTrend Head of Editorial Ed Loh. “Software is rapidly taking over every part of the car, with code now critical to how every major vehicle system talks to each other, and how the vehicle as a whole navigates, communicates and interacts with the outside world.”

From a nominations pool of 51 industry standouts, winners were chosen by MotorTrend's editors for recognition in three categories: Pioneers, Leaders, and Domain Experts.

In a prepared statement, Loh said, "This trailblazing group exemplifies the transformative impact of the software-defined vehicle movement. Their groundbreaking efforts redefine automotive design, driving, and the overall experience. We celebrate these exceptional Pioneers, Leaders, and Experts for propelling us into the future of software-defined vehicles."

This year's winners included the following. (For complete listings, visit here).

Pioneer Award Winners

These outstanding individuals have demonstrably broken new ground within the SDV space through research, development, and application of new automotive software:

  • Philipp Skogstad, President and CEO, Mercedes-Benz R&D North America, for his contributions to the auto industry with two production car firsts: Level 3 autonomous driving testing certification and a generative AI-powered assistant in vehicle.

  • Jan Becker, CEO and Co-Founder, Apex.AI

  • Jordan Greene, former Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder, AEye 

  • Yu Fang, CTO and Co-Founder, Sonatus

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:

  • HaeYoung Kwon, VP and Head of Infotainment, Hyundai Motor Company, for enabling a connected services platform with more than 5 million subscribers and developing platform-agnostic service architectures.

  • Abdul Bazzi, VP, Software & Services Platform, SDV Operating System, General Motors, for leading GM through its launch of Ultifi, an end-to-end software platform that gives customers a more connected experience via over-the-air services, apps, and features.  

  • Sammy Omari, Latitude AI CEO and Executive Director of ADAS Technologies at Ford Motor Company, for rolling out the hands-free (but eyes-on) highway driving assistance tech BlueCruise.

  • Michael Bell, SVP of Digital and Platform Software Engineering, Lucid Motors, for his holistic approach to vehicle technology and user-centric software that has made Lucid a spearhead of innovation in the automotive space.

  • Christian Sobottka, President of Automotive, Harman

  • Maria Anhalt, CEO, Elektrobit  

  • Jeffrey Chou, CEO and Co-Founder, Sonatus  

  • Mayank Sikaria, President, Co-Founder, and Head of Technology, Sibros  

  • Vsevolod Vovkushevsky, Software Products and Services Product Line Director, Valeo

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.):

  • Michael Brewer, Chief Engineer for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems—Help Me Tow, Hitch, and Park Features, Ford Motor Company for delivering driver-assistance systems that make off-roading and towing more accessible.

  • Stefano Marzani, Worldwide Technology Leader, Software-Defined Vehicle, Amazon Web Services for facilitating the adoption of cloud-native engineering workbenches that help automakers manage data and streamline simulations, validation, and testing activities.

  • Berta Rodriguez-Hervas, Vice President of Artificial Intelligence, Algorithms, and Machine Learning Ops, Stellantis, for developing AI-based algorithms that enable autonomous driving systems to perceive, interpret, and handle complex urban scenarios.

  • Dr. Moritz Neukirchner, Senior Director Strategic Product Management Software-Defined Vehicle, Elektrobit  

  • Ramin Shirani, Co-Founder and CEO, Ethernovia  

  • Dr. Jonghyuk Song, Director of Vehicle Threat Research Lab, AutoCrypt

Congratulations to all of this year’s award winners and thank you for your contributions to furthering the software-defined evolution of the global transportation industry.  

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Steve Kovsky

About Steve Kovsky

Steve Kovsky is former Editorial Director at BlackBerry.