Back in early February, Ford made a surprise announcement that it was promoting Jim Farley to chief operating officer, and Joe Hinrichs was retiring after 19 years with the company. We say surprising because at the time, there had been zero indications that Hinrichs was considering retirement, leading to suspicions that that the Ford executive had been forced to leave.
Those suspicions were mostly confirmed when several employees posted comments praising Hinrichs on the automaker’s internal website, along with multiple claims that he was forced out. Considering the fact that his departure followed some very disappointing Q4 2019 results, it certainly seemed like odd timing. Regardless, it now appears the the former Ford executive has landed on his feet quite nicely.
According to Automotive News, Hinrichs has joined the board of directors at WaveSense, a Boston-based startup that uses ground-penetrating radar to help self-driving vehicles better understand and navigate road environments. He joins former General Motors CFO Chuck Stevens and former Continental chief technology officer Kurt Lehmann, who are on the company’s advisory board.
“Joe, Chuck, and Kurt are world-class leaders in the automotive industry, and they will be invaluable assets as WaveSense navigates customer partnering and scale-up,” said WaveSense CEO Tarik Bolat. “Their guidance will help us move faster and smarter, and we’re thrilled to have them as part of the team.”
“WaveSense is delivering the most precise and reliable vehicle positioning system at a cost that allows broad adoption,” Hinrichs said. “Knowing where you are is fundamental to enabling the next-generation safety and performance features the automotive industry is looking for.”
Most companies working on sensors for self-driving vehicles focus on what the human driver sees, but WaveSense’s approach centers around ground-penetrating radar that’s capable of seeing through a road at depths up to ten feet and creating a map of the road’s subsurface.
The system is capable of receiving unique reflections based on soil types, soil density, roots, rocks, and utility infrastructure. It’s far more accurate than other types of sensors, and allows vehicles to localize themselves to within two centimeters of a precise location.
WaveSense is the first company to use this technology for automotive applications, but it is already in use in the military, as well as various archaeology and utility pipeline work.