Imagine yourself in one of Southeast Asia’s busiest cities: Bangkok, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh, Phnom Penh or Kuala Lumpur. You’re in a hurry to get to the other side of the city for a meeting. What would be your ideal choice of transportation? A taxi, Grab, Uber, train, or a motorbike? Not all these cities have trains and traffic can be a nightmare, so say you chose a motorbike. It’s fast, semi-safe; the driver is willing to negotiate a fair price, gives you a helmet, and takes you to your destination in 20 minutes.
Now, Southeast Asia has a lot of people driving cars which serve to clog up the roads, but motorbikes/motorcycles continue to be a popular mode of transportation. Not only can motorbike drivers can weave through traffic, easily park and take up less space – bikes are very affordable to own. However, not all motorbikes/motorcycles are created equal; some are designed and engineered better than others. Quality, reliability, design, and speed were once the measuring factors that gave automotive manufacturers a competitive edge, but in today’s race to AI, autonomous vehicles, green energy and conscious consumers the standards have changed. Big companies must innovate or be disrupted by smaller, lean and bold startups.
At Techsauce Global Summit 2017, Hiroshi 'Hiro' Saijo, CEO & Managing Director of Yamaha Motors Ventures and Laboratory Silicon Valley, shared about his two-decade career at Yamaha Motor Co. and current position where he now leads the innovation and research for Yamaha’s two-year-old Corporate Venture Capital fund. Today, the primary challenge for many big automotive companies is how they will transform themselves and stay ahead of disruptive technologies.
“How many of you guys know about Yamaha Motors? Okay, but how many of you guys know about Yamaha Ventures doing corporate venturing in Silicon Valley? That is what I’m excited to be here and to tell you,” said Hiro as he kicked off the fireside chat at Techsauce Global Summit moderated by Masaru Ikeda, co-founder of thebridge.jp.
“Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley (YMVSV) exists to accelerate the efforts of teams driving disruptive change,” says Hiro.
Question #1: When you talk about scalability, that can mean a lot of things. What do you mean by it? Can you talk more about scalability? How do you help a startup you invest in to scale?
Yamaha fortunately is a global company and has the resources and capital to help a startup scale. These are the things we help our startups with:
Question #2: What was the reason for developing an autonomous driving robot?
This project started in 2015 and will end this year. It was started to research and explore different technologies. Yamaha has the technology for factory automation & industrial application, but doesn’t have technology for the human development side of things. From this project and research, we want to explore the application of adaptive autonomy to existing vehicles. So, that means applying this technology in the areas of construction, inspection and agriculture, like in situations that are dangerous for humans such as disasters, contaminations, or pollution. We want to use this technology to get people away from dangerous situations.
The next time you ride a motorbike in Bangkok or Jakarta, take a look at the name of the manufacturer, and if happens to be a Yamaha now you know that it’s not only a company that creates high quality and reliable bikes, but a company looking to the change the future of mobility.