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Fireside chat with Dragos Stanciu, CEO of Grayscale AI

Who is Dragos Stanciu?

I’m a startup founder with expertise in software development and AI. I have a Master’s in Computational Neuroscience and Machine Learning from the University of Edinburgh. I am one of the first people in the world to work on AI that’s powered by neuromorphic hardware, building algorithms for autonomous drones at ETH Zürich. Beside that, I like going to the gym and training for half-marathons.

What’s the story behind Grayscale AI?

The company is inspired by my research while in academia. Essentially, I was looking at making robots smarter by using a new type of camera called neuromorphic camera to improve autonomous robot navigation.

Neuromorphic computing is, simply put, computers that mimic the functionality of the human brain.

I’ve realised that I can apply my computational neuroscience knowledge to process the data from this camera and create new brain-inspired algorithms for robots.

Therefore, Grayscale AI is at the intersection of Computer Vision, Robotics and Neural Computation.

I like to think that we are the software that gives eyes to robots.

What was the most difficult part of your experience in the early beginnings?

What I found most challenging was educating the market about the potential of our technology. We are one of the first movers in this space and we had to find new ways to translate technological benefits into commercial benefits. At the end of the day, the customers don’t really care about technology, they want solutions. A founder needs to articulate, as simply as possible, how their solution is able to reduce costs or increase revenue for a business.

What are you most proud of regarding your business?

I’m extremely proud of the partnerships that we’re creating in this space. We’re now working together with partners from industry, government and academia and we think this is key to creating true innovation. Most recently we’ve won a UK government grant as part of the Zenzic CAM Scale-Up programme so we’re very excited to further test and develop our solution, as we are the first in the UK to work with neuromorphic cameras on UK testbed facilities.

What is your vision for the future of Grayscale AI?

Neuromorphic computing is a fundamental change in our existing computing paradigm. In the future, our technology will power the car that drives you to work fast and safely, the drone that locates you in the event of an avalanche, and the smartphone that you won’t have to worry about running out of battery.

What’s your advice for the businesses that are trying to adapt to this economic climate?

Bounce back as soon as possible after a setback. Reframe an apparent negative situation into a positive, learn the lesson and move on. Be persistent and welcome rejection.

Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business.

Neuromorphic or event-based cameras are evolving at a fast pace with the clear leader in the space being Prophesee in France. These cameras only detect lighting changes in the environment, very fast, at a very low power compared to traditional cameras. We see many promising applications for them.

On the algorithms side, spiking neural networks are a class of neural network models that can take into account the temporal dimension of incoming data. They are especially suitable for running on neuromorphic chips such as Intel’s Loihi or IBM’s TrueNorth. Given the high energy-efficiency of these chips (up to 10,000x better), we envision them being deployed on autonomous cars, drones, smartphones and in industrial IoT use-cases. 

What books do you have on your nightstand?

I’ve recently read Elon Musk’s biography by Ashlee Vance and The 50th Law by Robert Greene and 50 Cent. I’m currently reading So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport. On my nightstand I have Venture Deals by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson.

My pro tip for “reading” more books is getting an Audible subscription.

Because of the current economic climate our publication has started a series of discussions with professional individuals meant to engage our readers with relevant companies and their representatives in order to discuss their involvement, what challenges they have had in the past and what they are looking forward to in the future. This sequence aims to present a series of experiences, recent developments, changes and downsides in terms of their business areas, as well as their goals, values, career history, the high-impact success outcomes and achievements.

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