From politics to AVs, and serving LEAP with driverless shuttles

From politics to AVs, and serving LEAP with driverless shuttles

From 2014 to 2016, Taavi Rõivas (Chairman at Auve Tech) was the Prime Minister of Estonia. Now he’s deeply involved in bringing autonomous vehicles (AVs) to the roads and making them available for commercial use – here in Saudi Arabia, and in other countries around the world. 

We caught up with Rõivas to find out how he shifted from politics to AVs, and what he thinks of regulators’ approach to the rollout of autonomous vehicles on public roads. 

How did you transition from the Prime Minister of Estonia to working in the autonomous vehicle space? 

“Estonia is widely known as a very innovative and fully digital country. During my term in government I pushed hard for this, and also for the best possible startup ecosystem. 

“After leaving politics behind a few years ago I decided to go all into the tech sector, and to become part of a rapidly growing tech startup. Auve Tech seemed like a natural choice – an ambitious team transforming the urban commuting to a sustainable and innovative alternative.” 

What is Auve Tech working on right now - and could you share any milestones the company has achieved over the last year? 

“In 2023 we became the market leader in Japan – we delivered more autonomous vehicles to the market than any other tech company. We are honoured to have such strong local partners and clients’ trust there. 

“For the first time we served LEAP 2023 in February last year with two first generation vehicles and now are preparing to come back with the latest model, which will be offered also for commercial deployments in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” 

What has the response been to Auve Tech's pilot shuttle schemes - from transport regulators, government bodies, and/or the public? 

“We started our operations in Europe, have driven in 16 countries altogether, and in most of these also on public roads. The regulators have been curious and enabling, but strict when it comes to safety. We think that this is exactly the right approach. 

“The public has been very open to taking a ride in a shuttle without pedals or steering wheel, they like it very much. And they’ve been positively surprised at how smooth the ride is.” 

If you could go back to the beginning of your career and tell yourself one thing you wish you knew then, what would it be? 

“If it needs to be one thing, then it would probably be: ‘never assume anything, check the facts.’

“Or ‘nothing is impossible.’ But – of course – you learn every day and every experience can be very valuable. Basic human qualities such as staying humble and kind never go out of fashion.” 

Finally, why are events like LEAP valuable to you? 

“LEAP brings together not only the tech sector decision makers, but much much more. Without doubt, it is the most important event in the whole region and being there helps to be really present in the KSA market.” 

Thanks to Taavi Rõivas at Auve Tech. Experience autonomous vehicles at LEAP. 

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