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Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz/Bosch
Mercedes-Benz Offers a Glimpse Into a Future Where Your Car Parks Itself
03:00 PM | March 20, 2022
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Angelenos famously hate parking, but soon their cars may be able to park themselves thanks to a collaboration between Mercedes-Benz and German engineering firm Bosch.
At a demonstration in Downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, Mercedes and Bosch gave the first U.S. test run showcasing the fruits of their collaboration: an electric Mercedes-Benz 2022 EQS 580 luxury sedan capable of navigating itself into a parking spot.
Painted in bright teal stripes, the sedan first let its driver out at a designated spot. Then, a tap of a Mercedes-Benz phone app locked the vehicle and sent it, at a gradual pace, to the first available parking space. Later, a ping from the app woke up the car—which turned itself on, pulled out of the parking spot and slowly made its way to the driver’s pickup point.
Painted in bright teal stripes, an electric Mercedes-Benz 2022 EQS 580 pulls into a parking spot with no driver.Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz/Bosch
A Bosch engineer stepped in front of the car several times as it was driving to demonstrate its safety features; if sensors detect a presence or any motion in front of the car, they’ll tell it to stop a safe distance away. (For extra security, a person walked alongside the car with an emergency shut-off button.)
Kay Stepper, Bosch’s senior vice president of automated driving for North America, noted that the self-parking technology relies on sensors and cameras built into its surrounding environment, which guide the car into its space. (The sensors are installed on the ground, while the cameras are mounted above.) He added that the technology could be applied to any type of car, so long as a manufacturer makes it compatible with its vehicle.
“The unique thing is really that we are not using any of the in-vehicle sensors—it’s a purely infrastructure-based solution,” Stepper told dot.LA.
The demo marked the first time that Mercedes and Bosch have tested the technology outside of Germany. In their home country, the driverless parking capability is already installed and ready to use at Stuttgart Airport pending final regulatory approval, according to Philipp Skogstad, Mercedes’ president and CEO of North American research and development.
A handful of other auto industry names are also investing in automated valets, including the Volkswagen Group-owned CARIAD, which demonstrated its technology at an industry summit in Munich last. Yet another competitor is Maryland-based STEER. Other companies focused on autonomous technology from more of a road-driving perspective are Google’s Waymo and, of course, Tesla.
Skogstad acknowledged the increasingly crowded playing field. “Automated driving is such a complex task requiring so many pieces to come together that nobody can do that alone,” he said. “No matter how much money you have, you need partners.”
A Bosch engineer tests the self-parking car’s pick-up options.Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz/Bosch
Stepper noted that Bosch is “intensely” focused on finding collaborators in the “smart infrastructure” space who can help it implement a driverless parking network. The next step, he added, is to convince local parking operators to invest in the technology. Without human error (consider that driver in your apartment building’s garage who’s always double-parked), he estimated that a fully-automated parking lot could fit up to 20% more cars.
And what about the valet workers—such as those on hand at the demo, who were kind enough to park cars for the event’s attendees the old-fashioned way? A Bosch spokesperson noted that they wouldn’t exactly be put out of business, as self-parking garages would still need humans to operate and maintain their technology and act as a safeguard.
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02:23 PM | April 17, 2023
On this episode of Behind Her Empire, Anastasia Founder and beauty mogul Anastasia Soare shares her journey to founding one of the most popular cosmetic brands on the market, and what led her to the success of her business.
Anastasia is a Beverly Hills-based beauty brand known for its iconic eyebrow products and services. Soare founded her company in 1997, at a time when brow services were relatively unknown. She disrupted the beauty space with her brow shaping technique, which she later patented as the “Golden Ratio.”
“I really believed in eyebrows,” Soare said. “I really believe that there is a mathematical formula that the human eye is encoded to recognize that balance and proportion that the eyebrow does can completely change the face.”
As successful as Soare is, starting out in the United States wasn’t easy.
Soare left Romania in 1989 during a time of Communist regime because she wanted a better life for herself and her family. When Soare arrived in Sherman Oaks, she said everything felt so foreign to her and the most difficult part was not being able to speak the language.
But despite the hurdles in the first six months of living in Los Angeles, Soare pushed through and landed a job as an aesthetician. While the job was originally only temporary, the owner of the salon loved her and offered her a permanent position.
“I will do anything because I want to learn,” she said. “I was like a sponge. I wanted to understand and it was absolutely this desire to learn and to find out what is going on and how I could become better.”
As Soare gained more clientele, she began to notice how frequently she received compliments on her brows. She started sharing techniques with clients and offering free brow services.
“We didn’t even charge it,” Soare said. “But because I was booked for a one hour facial, I [would] be late for my next client, so the owner didn't want me to do eyebrows anymore.”
But Soare knew her brow service was a hit and believed that it could take off as a business. She rented a space at a Beverly Hills salon and started offering eyebrow shaping services in addition to facials and body waxing.
Since she was across the street from Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, the makeup artists noticed that it was so much easier to do makeup when their clients' brows were shaped to their face. They started to send all of their clients over to Soare, and she quickly outgrew the space.
“I [had] to scale the business,” she said. “I [couldn’t] be in one room for the rest of my life. I have to do something. That’s why I risked my life to come here. I left my family and I need to pursue the American dream.”
In her eyes, the next step after owning her own salon was to launch a makeup line. Soare didn’t realize she had to pay makeup artists at Nordstrom and other department stores to sell her products.
“Nobody likes to lose money,” she said. “I realized you will take a chance and you will push as much as you can. But when you feel that it’s a dead end, you need to take a cold shower and make a decision and say ‘Ok, this is a loss. Let’s go with what is the winner.’”
For over 20 years of the business, Soare has self funded Anastasia up until 2018 when she made the decision she wanted to expand the brand internationally.
“That was the time when I knew that we needed to bring on a company or a partner that has got international experience,” Soare said. “And that’s when we partnered with TPG.”
Soare said her life is dedicated to her business and she wants to continue to expand the brand.
“We want to find ways to market,” she said. “You see the platform's are changing and what used to be the magazines, the traditional advertising, now it’s different. So I do social media and I like to always to be on top to hear what is new.”
dot.LA Reporter Decerry Donato contributed to this post.
This podcast is produced by Behind Her Empire. The views and opinions expressed in the show are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of dot.LA or its newsroom.
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Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.
11:47 AM | June 09, 2023
At Lowercarbon Capital’s LA Tech Week event Thursday, the synergy between the region’s aerospace industry and greentech startups was clear.
The event sponsored by Lowercarbon, Climate Draft (and the defunct Silicon Valley Bank’s Climate Technology & Sustainability team) brought together a handful of local startups in Hawthorne not far from LAX, and many of the companies shared DNA with arguably the region’s most famous tech resident: SpaceX.
Here’s a look at the greentech startups that pitched during the Tech Week event, and how they think what they’re building could help solve the climate crisis.
Arbor: Based in El Segundo, this year-old startup is working to convert organic waste into energy and fresh water. At the same time, it also uses biomass carbon removal and storage to remove carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it in an attempt to avoid further damaging the earth’s ozone layer. At the Tech Week event Thursday, Arbor CEO Brad Hartwig told a stunned crowd that Arbor aims to remove about five billion tons of organic waste from landfills and turn that into about 6 PWh, or a quarter of the global electricity need, each year. Hartwig is an alumni of SpaceX; he was a manufacturing engineer on the Crew Dragon engines from 2016-2018 and later a flight test engineer at Kitty Hawk.
Antora: Sunnyvale-based Antora Energy was founded in 2017, making it one of the oldest companies on the pitching block during the event. Backed by investors including the National Science Foundation and Los Angeles-based Overture VC, Antora has raised roughly $57 million to date, most recently a $50 million round last February. Chief operating officer Justin Briggs said Antora’s goal is to modernize and popularize thermal energy storage using ultra-hot carbon. Massive heated carbon blocks can give off thermal energy, which Antora’s proprietary batteries then absorb and store as energy. It’s an ambitious goal, but one the world needs at scale to green its energy footprint. According to Briggs, “the biggest challenge is how can we turn back variable intermittent renewable electricity into something that's reliable and on demand, so we can use it to provide energy to everything we need.”
Arc: Hosting the panel was Arc, an electric boating company that’s gained surprising momentum, moving from design to delivering its first e-boats in just two years of existence. Founded in 2021, the company’s already 70 employees strong and has already sold some of its first e-boats to customers willing to pay the luxury price tag, CTO Ryan Cook said Thursday. Cook said that to meet the power needs of a battery-powered speedboat, the Arc team designed the vehicle around the battery pack with the goal of it being competitive with gas boats when compared to range and cost of gas. But on the pricing side, it’s not cheap. Arc’s flagship vessel, the Arc One is expected to cost roughly $300,000. During the panel, Cook compared the boat to being “like an early Tesla Roadster.” To date Arc Boats has raised just over $35 million, according to PitchBook, from investors including Kevin Durant, Will Smith and Sean “Diddy” Combs.
Clarity Technology: Carbon removal startup Clarity is based in LA and was founded by Yale graduate and CEO Glen Meyerowitz last year. Clarity is working to make “gigaton solutions for gigaton problems.” Their aim? To remove up to 2,000 billion pounds of carbon from the atmosphere through direct air capture, a process which uses massive fans to move chemicals that capture CO2. But the challenge, Meyerowitz noted in his speech, is doing this at scale in a way that makes an actual dent in the planet’s emissions while also efficiently using the electricity needed to do so. Meyerowitz spent nearly five years working as an engineer for SpaceX in Texas, and added he’s looking to transfer those learnings into Clarity.
Parallel Systems: Based in Downtown LA’s Arts District, this startup is building zero-emission rail vehicles that are capable of long-haul journeys otherwise done by a trucking company. The estimated $700 billion trucking industry, Parallel Systems CEO Matt Soule said, is ripe for an overhaul and could benefit from moving some of its goods off-road to electric railcars. According to Soule, Parallel’s electric battery-powered rail vehicles use 25% of the energy a semi truck uses, and at a competitive cost. Funded in part by a February 2022 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, Parallel Systems has raised about $57 million to date. Its most recent venture funding round was a $49 million Series A led by Santa Monica-based VC Anthos Capital. Local VCs including Riot Ventures and Santa Monica-based Embark Ventures are also backers of Parallel.
Terra Talent: Unlike the rest of the startups pitching at the Tech Week event, Terra Talent was focused on building teams rather than technology. Founder Dolly Singh worked at SpaceX, Oculus and Citadel as a headhunter, and now runs Terra, a talent and advisory firm that helps companies recruit top talent in the greentech space. But, she said, she’s concerned that all the work these startups are doing won’t matter unless we very quickly turn around the current trendlines. “Earth will shake us off like and she will do just fine in 10,000 years,” she said. “It’s our way of living, everything we love is actually here on earth… there’s nothing I love on Mars,” adding that she’s hopeful the startups that pitched during the event will be instrumental in making sure the planet stays habitable for a little while longer.
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