Challenging conventional wisdom is always a tough choice. You either fall flat on your face dramatically or achieve more than you have ever dreamt of. It’s a high-risk, high-reward situation, and for Giovanni Blandina, Founder & CEO of EasyRain, the rewards couldn’t have been better.
The automotive industry is in the grips of the technological wave and is experiencing a shift of focus from hardware to software. Autonomous driving, software-defined vehicles and terms as such occupy industry chatter and hardware technology is considered a saturated market. Going against such mainstream accepted ideas, Giovanni founded a startup that has been focused on using hardware technology to reduce car accidents and save lives.
EasyRain is a company that makes car safety systems that uses low-grip technology to make for a better and safer driving experience on wet roads, snow, or sleet conditions. Its whole and sole mission is to save lives.
Let us dive into Giovanni’s narration of his journey of finding EasyRain and the impact that he hopes to create.
Big Ideas, Skeptical Beginnings
“At EasyRain, we’ve approached an issue (reducing accidents on wet roads and aquaplaning conditions) that has been around since the cars came out,” begins Giovanni. “The idea that we could succeed where the big names have failed was hard to believe. Over time we have managed to overcome skepticism, and today, car makers are starting to collaborate with us.”
Giovanni started his career in 2001 as Testing Methodology and Process Designer for Urmet, a Turin-based company that designs and manufactures integrated building communication and security systems. In January 2008, he became Team Coordinator for MotoGP team FB Corse. In January 2009, he moved to Marelli as SkyTechnology’s Senior Consultant, designing new testing strategies for automotive products in the telematics area. In September 2013, he became Testing Methodology Designer for Marelli. He founded EasyRain in March 2013. It started as a part-time job, but it became a full-time job in July 2018.
Despite a 50% decrease in road fatalities across the EU since 2000, aquaplaning and wet roads remain one of the most dangerous driving conditions. This is the reason that led Giovanni to establish EasyRain. Its mission is, in fact, to save lives and reduce the number of accidents in driving conditions on low-grip surfaces – first on wet roads, but soon also on snow and ice.
The challenge was to launch a startup with the mission of developing active safety systems, thus requiring a huge amount of money. Finding the funds to do R&D, staying in Italy, and having no helping channels was certainly one of the most important challenges Giovanni had to face. Another hazardous but very rewarding choice was to follow the opposite direction of where the automotive industry had been allocating investments. In an era of digitalization, software, and autonomous driving, EasyRain had chosen to develop hardware systems.
“As part of this journey, we have reinvented safety for cars and autonomous vehicles by introducing the first active safety system capable of changing road conditions: the Aquaplaning Intelligent Solution. We then introduced virtual sensors, starting with Digital Aquaplaning Information (DAI), as a set of features that allow car manufacturers to activate a long series of new vehicle safety features based on the grip detected,” says Giovanni.
A Culture of Choice & Challenge
At EasyRain, employees are encouraged to express their views and ideas because the need is to think faster and more efficiently to overcome problems quickly. Since there will not be any second chances, the team considers its responsibility to ensure they innovate on a daily basis. Furthermore, every team member knows that they are essential for the success of the entire project and in the development of the products.
“The choice is dictated by the desire to be part of a challenge. Skills can be bought and enhanced by paying for master classes, but the willingness to face challenges, the desire to participate in something great, and the attitude to sacrifice cannot be bought. This is why these aspects are a priority in the selection of people both as employees and partners,” explains Giovanni.
Keeping Pace with Technology
The automotive industry is changing on the back of autonomous driving and electric vehicles, and change is often frightening. However, on the contrary, EasyRain is living the moment with incredible enthusiasm because Giovanni and the team believe that change is the synonym for opportunity.
In an era of digitalization, software, and autonomous driving, EasyRain has chosen to develop a hardware system. “It feels like we’re swimming against the tide,” says Giovanni, “but our strategy turned out to be successful as carmakers have started to strongly consider our products. That being said, we firmly believe that AIS, DAI, and ERC will be closely related to technological advancements in the automotive industry as they will become a key safety feature for autonomous driving vehicles.”
Over the years, EasyRain has become a leader in the research and development of innovative safety systems, and being close to the series introduction represents an incredible success, especially considering that the most positive feedback EasyRain got at the beginning was “Nice, but you’ll never make it. The automotive world is inviolable.” Strongly believing in themselves and in the possibility of succeeding has allowed Giovanni and the team to make great strides.
They also believe that their technologies will represent a key feature for autonomous vehicles, as they showed in January 2023 at Consumer Electronics Show. Italdesign ClimbE driverless car featured EasyRain’s solutions to enhance road safety.
“My biggest dream is for EasyRain to become a key player in EU strategy for 2050 aimed at zero road fatalities. I’m sure we have the potential to fulfill our mission and become a benchmark player in the field of automotive safety on low-grip surfaces,” aspires Giovanni.
Beyond his dream, he also relies on the feedback that comes out after the November test on Applus+ IDIADA Spanish proving ground talk– test drives with OEMs showed the effectiveness of the systems on various car types, including sedans, station wagons, and SUVs. “Participants gave enthusiastic responses, and the AIS test was compared to the introduction of braking and stability control systems,” concludes Giovanni.