Right now, cutting-edge driver safety technology is prohibitively expensive – but a Cambridge startup is working to make it accessible to everybody. In the latest in The Disruptors series, Hao Zheng, co-founder and chief executive at RoboK, explains all.

Tell us about RoboK

RoboK is a venture capital-backed start-up, based in Cambridge – we develop efficient 3D sensing software solutions for low-power computing platforms.

Ultimately, our goal is to deliver safety benefits for driving in the most cost-effective way.

What was the opportunity you identified that led to the launch of RoboK?

At the moment, technical advances in the automotive space still concentrate on high-end ranges. But while technology comes at a cost, safety shouldn’t – safety features should roll out to every car and every person should benefit from the technology.

We’re leveraging advances in image processing, sensor fusion and simulations and creating algorithms that would work on cost-effective hardware, and believe the solution will enable advanced driving functions to be accessed by the wider public.

How did you use invention and innovation to disrupt the market?

We are collaborating with early adopters of the technology and have successfully completed trials of our algorithms, which is an exciting step.

We’re looking forward to bringing value and cost-saving opportunities to more prospective customers. Ultimately, we want our technology to be key enabling driving safety everywhere!

What were the challenges you faced along the way and how did you learn from them?

It was hard to gain validation from existing market players early on, especially when both time and resources were limited.

But we were very lucky to gain invaluable feedback from large corporates at an early stage, which has been crucial for our product and commercial strategies.

If you were starting from the beginning again, what would you do differently?

I’d talk to as many people as possible about the idea, product and the market, and start testing ideas early on.

What would be your advice to somebody launching a disruptive startup?

Learn as much as you can about the markets you’re entering and how your product will fit in. As my advisor said – sometimes you need to kiss a thousand frogs!

What are your plans for the future?

Our more immediate plans is to scale our team to better serve the needs of our customers and establish new partnerships.

In terms of our vision, we want to be the enabler of driving safety everywhere!

The Disruptors is a video series highlighting the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridge businesses shaking up their respective industries. Read more and follow the series here.