Seungho Lee, an Engineering Director at Motional, celebrates Lunar New Year wearing a traditional Korean Hanbok with his wife and kids.
Each month, we're highlighting the people who are using their talents and passions to help make driverless vehicles a reality. Our team is driven by something more.
Seungho Lee, an Engineering Director, talks about his passion for robotics, his love for his family and how he's grown professionally since joining Motional.
Describe your role at Motional - what do you do?
I lead three teams: Controls, Drive-by-Wire (DBW), and the Autonomy Integration Team (AIT). The Control team is responsible for trajectory generation. DBW is responsible for motion control, or ensuring that the vehicle is properly following the computed trajectory. And AIT has three main responsibilities: autonomy performance, expansion and release. The autonomy performance team measures the performance of our AVs. The expansion team provides perspective, analyzing the complexity and feasibility of launching the robotaxi service in a certain area. And the release team produces the code bundle for each program.
What inspired you to get into the AV/Tech industry?
I’ve always been interested in robotics. Probably a big turnaround time would be my PhD. We built the robot as a team in the research lab and implemented a theory that I developed during the PhD program. That was similar to the AV application and was much more exciting and interesting than pure theory to me.
When you are at work, what do you do to motivate yourself?
I usually set my own small goals and try to achieve them. I believe this habit not only provides motivation but also allows me to enjoy the pleasure of small achievements.
How would you describe the culture on your team at Motional?
I’ve been at a large tech company, a classical OEM, and a small start up. They each had their own colors and culture. I think Motional is hitting a good balance between tech start up and mid-size tech company. We value transparency and open discussion, but also have our own standards/rules/processes to encourage people to follow on a right level.
What is the most recent book you read and what did you think of it?
"Everybody Lies" by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. It is about investment and that personal investment should be long term habit.
What’s a fun fact about yourself that people would be surprised to know?
I’ve lived in 7 different cities in the U.S. in 15 years :)
Seungho in front of Motional's Las Vegas office.
If you could choose anyone as a mentor, who would it be and why?
I learned a lot from my PhD advisor on how to train mentally and keep healthy in my hectic life. This is still applicable to my day-to-day life, but I often forget. It would be good to have a mentor, like my PhD advisor, who can help me grow mentally and stay healthy.
Outside of work, what are some of your favorite hobbies and passions?
I spend all my time outside of work with my wife and kids. Usually I help my kids do their homework and after-school activities in the evening, as well as some family duties until night.
What does AAPI Heritage Month mean to you and how are you recognizing it this year?
My kids were born in the U.S. Since then, I had more chances to think about being a “U.S. citizen as an Asian.” I see this makes life richer. There are more opportunities to enjoy and come up with our unique cultural background.
How have you grown professionally since joining the Motional team?
As I have been involved in many cross-team discussions, I find it is helpful to think about topics from other points of view. This helps me to have a broader view in the organization and reach a consensus more efficiently.
What is your definition of success?
I think it is a completely subjective feeling that I experience when I lay in bed after finishing my daily routine. In a small sense, it’s not having regrets, and in a slightly bigger sense, it is a feeling like I would behave the same way if the same situation were to arise again.
What aspects of Motional’s mission do you most identify with?
I believe safer transportation should be much more affordable and driverless vehicles would help achieve this. People should be more free to move!
Seungho sledding with his kids.
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