He used to manage an endurance racing team. Now he’s in charge of a fleet of autonomous vehicles. Argo AI’s Andre Ramdhanny explains what they have in common. Hear the former team-builder share the most exciting story from his racing career, what really happens when you take your car to a dealership for servicing, and why you don’t need a PhD to work in the tech sector. Stay tuned as he also solves Alex’s BMW battery problems and breaks down the best racing books to add to your reading list.

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Episode Transcript

Alex Roy
On this episode of No Parking, we’ve got a really interesting person. I thought I was the only guy at Argo AI who really loves driving, but I’m like 50th down the list. Bryan, you’re like 47th down the list, it seems, right?

Bryan Salesky
I love it. I love it.

Alex Roy
Because this episode, we have a gentleman named Andre Ramdhanny. And his background, it’s unbelievable. He’s got way more car racing background than I do. And what is his precise role down in Miami?

Bryan Salesky
So, Andre is a service technician in our Miami terminal, where we have the largest operation out of all of our cities at present. And Andre is just a master at his craft. He can pretty much fix, repair, modify, do anything to these vehicles. Every time those cars hit the road, and they are as reliable as they are, we owe it to Andre.

Alex Roy
Because the guy ran a racing team. How many people at Argo… I mean, did you know when you set up the company, that you were going to end up having so many people who are driving enthusiasts?

Bryan Salesky
I think we know that we attract folks that come from those types of backgrounds. This is an interesting high-tech field that they can draw upon their experience.

Alex Roy
I always found it really amazing. I guess I didn’t realize that vehicle uptime, how you treat a car in the racing world, because of all the stress, directly connects to uptime in a shared fleet of autonomous vehicles. Everything has to be operating at a level far higher than the average privately owned vehicle.

Bryan Salesky
Yeah, that’s right. These are expensive assets, and we need them to be operating for us to fulfill our development activities. And long-term, they need to be operational and reliable, so we can keep them on the road servicing the community.

Alex Roy
It’s funny that’s how you describe it, because in my mind it’s like, all I want to know as a user is that it shows up, it works. And that requires racing grade or beyond military grade, well, just maintenance.

Bryan Salesky
That’s right. And Andre, he also exemplifies really the best in his field. We have a lot of folks like Andre on our service team. I’m really proud of our whole service-

Alex Roy
Shameless plug.

Bryan Salesky
… department across all of the cities. The folks that are every day helping our developers test and get feedback on the hardware components, and then also doing some of the more routine maintenance items, it’s a pretty exciting field. I think folks think that, “To get into self-driving cars, I need to be a PhD in something or another,” and that just isn’t the case. We hire folks from all different types of backgrounds and disciplines, and-

Alex Roy
Do you mean the kind of people who can get a street racing vehicle winning races every time, graduate to a professional racing team, and then come here?

Bryan Salesky
That’s right, yeah. All the mechanical knowledge, the discipline and rigor that goes into verifying that the race car is going to be reliable, and it’s going to make it through the race. There’s quite a bit that goes into making that happen, right? That folks may or may not appreciate. But there’s quite a bit, and Andre talks about some of it. And that absolutely applies to how we approach service.

Alex Roy
Well, let’s roll right into the discussion with Andre.

Alex Roy
What’s the movie with the movie with-

Andre Ramdhanny
Clint Eastwood, Heartbreak Ridge.

Alex Roy
Everyone asks you that?

Andre Ramdhanny

It’s what Grenada is kind of known for, conflict back in ’83.

Alex Roy
And for anyone who didn’t see the movie, that was of rah-rah Clint Eastwood, with a Marine recon unit.

Andre Ramdhanny

Right.

Alex Roy
They land, there’s some gunfights, and Clint Eastwood-

Andre Ramdhanny

Basically gets the country back, from under a coup that happened in the country alongside Cuban rebels or whatnot. And the Americans just came in and put a stop to it, basically.

Alex Roy
Were you alive at that time?

Andre Ramdhanny

I was a month old. I was born September 24th, and the US came in on October 25th.

Alex Roy
Do Grenadians think that movie is a comedy, or are they offended? Is it good? I mean, is it realistic?

Andre Ramdhanny

I wouldn’t say it’s realistic, but it’s pretty factual.

Alex Roy
Really?

Andre Ramdhanny

Yeah.

Alex Roy
Right, isn’t that interesting? We should talk about that on a different podcast. So, when I came down here to visit the Argo terminal, I was amazed to find out that there was someone with your background in charge. Are you in charge? What’s your title?

Andre Ramdhanny

I am the lead technician in the Miami terminal, so I’m responsible for everything behind the walls within the workshop.

Alex Roy
But you really come from a racing background?

Andre Ramdhanny

Yes, I spent five years working in motor sport in the Middle East.

Alex Roy
Okay. So, there’s a lot to unpack.

Andre Ramdhanny

Yeah.

Alex Roy
How many vehicles are you in charge of here in Miami?

Andre Ramdhanny

Currently 28, between the both fleets that we have. That number will drop, but go back up to 30 very soon.

Alex Roy
Okay. And what kind of vehicles are they?

Andre Ramdhanny

Ford Fusions.

Alex Roy
And each of them is carrying hundreds of pounds of hardware and sensors-

Andre Ramdhanny

Some very fancy equipment, very fancy computers, lidars, radars, sonar sensors on the platform side, but lots and lots of really techie stuff.

Alex Roy
But I guess your knowledge about how to manage a complex car packed full of custom gear comes from racing?

Andre Ramdhanny

So, my attention to detail with working with systems like this come from the racing background, but I’ve learned a lot working here. I’ve learned a hell of a lot, if I can say that.

Alex Roy
And you were a team manager?

Andre Ramdhanny

So, I was the lead technician/engineer on the racing division of the company, but I was the general manager day-to-day.

Alex Roy
What kind of cars were they racing?

Andre Ramdhanny

So, within our personal cars, our most successful year we had a Ginetta G50, a 2007 or 2008 spec Porsche 997 Cup car, and a Seat Supercopa.

Alex Roy
What series was this?

Andre Ramdhanny

So, this was within Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. So, we ran in the UAE Touring Car Championship, the UAE GT Championship as well.

Alex Roy
What is the path for a young guy… I get emails all the time, “How do I get into motor sport?” Although now it’s more like, “How do I get into self-driving cars?” What is the path for a young man from the Caribbean, to the Middle East, to being the lead technician on a racing team?

Andre Ramdhanny
So, I consider myself quite lucky. I think I met the right people at the right time. I left Grenada, moved to America August 15th, 1998. I don’t know why I’ll never forget that exact date, but I moved up here. I have two older brothers, so I think that’s where my interest in the automotive industry in general comes from. I started doing a lot of autocross and track days here in America, and then my girlfriend and I, now my wife, moved out to Dubai. I tried to get involved into motor sport, which obviously worked out successfully, but it was a struggle. I was working for one company at first, which didn’t work out too well. I wasn’t happy with the boss, we didn’t see eye to eye a lot.

Andre Ramdhanny

So, I was getting ready to leave Dubai, and then I was working a track day, and some guys had just bought a race car, a Seat Supercopa, that I had experienced running from my previous job. And just got to chatting with them. They said, “Hey, come down to the shop. Let’s have a chat, let’s see if we could work out.” There was a time trial event that was happening in Dubai, and he drove a specific car, a Megane R525.

Alex Roy
The Renault Megane?

Andre Ramdhanny

Yes.

Alex Roy
It’s a cool car.

Andre Ramdhan
Yeah, a really cool car. So, he drove that car one week in the time attack, and I drove it the very next week, and I was actually faster than him.

Alex Roy
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Andre Ramdhanny

So he was-

Alex Roy
Unhappy?

Andre Ramdhanny

Not unhappy. Next thing he’d have me do was test the Aston Martin that we had in the shop. So, that was my stepping into motor sport. And then we had a sit down, maybe a month later when we were deciding about expanding the shop, and he said that he wanted to put me in a race car, and that’s where it all started.

Alex Roy
It’s interesting, when people who don’t follow motor sport assume that you can show up, you could write a check. This is not just true of motor sports, but it’s true of anything in life, that anyone can walk in the door and write a check and reach a goal, a milestone, win a race, whatever, get from A to B because they’ve spent money, and they don’t see what’s happening up the food chain or back office-

Andre Ramdhanny

Right.

Alex Roy
… to get a race car. I mean, even if you have perfect hardware, the software is the driver’s mind. And then you have the tuning of all the components. People just don’t get it.

Andre Ramdhan
No, they don’t. I mean, money does get you into the car, money does give you a much better chance, but you still need the talent, in my opinion, and just that-

Alex Roy
And team management.

Andre Ramdhanny

Yes.

Alex Roy
Seconds can be the difference.

Andre Ramdhanny

Oh yes, and milliseconds can be the difference.

Alex Roy
So, why did you leave and come back to the United States finally?

Andre Ramdhanny

I think my wife and I just spent enough time out there, and we wanted to move back, be closer to family and, yeah, it’s worked out for us so far. It was a bumpy ride getting back, sort of a starting over for me more than her, but we made it where we are today.

Alex Roy
Bryan, you said you didn’t know about his racing background until you came down here. Is that right?

Bryan Salesky
Well, I heard that we had hired this really talented technician who had a racing background, and I thought, “Wow, that’s great.” Because in former lives I’ve met folks with that sort of background and they’re super technical, very detail-oriented, very much capable of working across the whole spectrum that we need in order to maintain these cars with all the fancy equipment on it. So, I was really pleased. And then, of course, last year when I came down to Miami, shortly after Andre was hired, I met him and said, “Wow, he’s perfect. It’s exactly what we need down here to keep this thing running.” And he hit the ground running ever since.

Alex Roy
I mean, I always assume that the type of people that would be really great managing these fleets would be people who came out of the military or people in racing.

Bryan Salesky
Yeah, those are the top two demographics, and the military side gives you sort of disciplined process protocol, right, and appreciation for how to work as part of a team, as part of a unit, right? But then the racing side of things, it’s high pressure. There tends to be a lot of exotic stuff. You have to move quickly, and that’s a lot of parallels to our business.

Alex Roy
So Andre, what does the average day look like for you here?

Andre Ramdhanny

Average day, well, that has evolved recently, but average day comes in, go over all the cars, make sure everything’s good to go, start them up, batteries are good, everything is looking okay, good for the guys to head out. We shut them down, we do the morning brief. Then perfect world, the cars head out, and we watch them drive around all day long.

Alex Roy
In real time?

Andre Ramdhanny

In real time we’re having some failures we have to address, cars are pulling back in for us to diagnose, sometimes reset some systems and get them back out. But the cars are keeping us busy.

Bryan Salesky
The thing people have to understand is that we’re not just building software here, we’re also building hardware. And so, there’s components in these vehicles that are new. They’ve been tested, but part of what we’re learning is how to put all these components together on a vehicle and get them to work together. And so, a lot of what Andre is looking at is one-off failures. It might be one camera out of a thousand that we have, something’s not quite right with it, so let’s try to troubleshoot it, and then make sure it never happens again. That’s part of the day in a life of testing.

Alex Roy
What I find fascinating about the Argo test vehicles is that the average person goes to a dealership, they buy or lease a car. They may not go back to that dealer for service ever, but maybe they’ll go back for the warranty service. And in between you have all these components that have been touched by the manufacturer. Sure, sure, sure. But there are failures. People, they have failures in the car. Some, they have car crashes because they didn’t check the brakes, they didn’t check the fluids, whatever.

Alex Roy
When I went into the Cannonball, I spent two years preparing a vehicle to operate perfectly for 30 hours, and that’s all it had to do. And even though I had two years and tens of thousands of dollars spent, we still had failures. So, because some people listening this may not understand, how different is a Ford Fusion coming off the assembly line in Dearborn from the Ford Fusion that’s coming out of this garage on a daily basis? Walk us through all the additional hardware.

Andre Ramdhanny

Oh, it’s night and day. I mean, it’s completely different. From the exterior, apart from the sensors on the roof, the tiara, identifying it is similar, but underneath it’s completely different. It’s a total different animal. The high voltage control system is completely different. The logic in there is completely different. The braking system does not match what a platform or a stock Fusion has in it. The suspension has been updated for-

Bryan Salesky
The weight.

Andre Ramdhanny

… the weight and our hardware that’s in there. The shift controls are also different.

Bryan Salesky
You mean the transmission?

Andre Ramdhanny

The transmission, the way we control it. So, the transmission itself is the same, but the way we control it’s different, yes.

Bryan Salesky
Are you talking about the gear mapping?

Andre Ramdhanny

The hardware itself, so the selection of the gears.

Bryan Salesky
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Wow. Because of the extra weight, and you want, I mean, gentle acceleration—

Andre Ramdhanny

No. So, that’s for more comfort inside the vehicle and the vehicle operation.

Bryan Salesky
So, what a lot of people are probably wondering as well, why do you have to change the brakes on this thing, right? And you can describe this better for me, but… Well actually, why don’t you describe, how does a braking system typically work on a normal car, and what’s different about our vehicle?

Andre Ramdhanny
All right. So, first we have to look at an off-the-line, non-hybrid vehicle where it’s just a hydraulic system. The driver presses a pedal, there’s actuators, linear motion in a master cylinder that forces fluid through to the different breakout operators, thus exerting force onto the back of the brake pads and onto the disc, stopping the vehicle. So in a hybrid that has been replaced with a motor that some vehicles, some manufacturers do it differently. There’s still a linear motor in some cases. Some of it, it’s a motor, a piston motor, maybe a two piston motor creating pressure to apply the brakes.

Andre Ramdhanny
Our new vehicles have a very fancy system where it’s redundant. We have both of those systems we’re describing there. We have the main master cylinder, if we want to call it that, which has a linear actuator on it to create the pressure, which if it fails, we back up on that dual piston motor to create pressure. That’s something that’s unique to our vehicles. But hybrid braking in general is unique. And something that people don’t know about hybrid vehicles is that the motor generator within a transaxle actually does a lot of the braking, especially with light pedal applications. So, until you pass a certain pressure requirement, it’s all done in the transaxle, and it’s recharging the battery at that state. So, when you go further than that is when you engage the hydraulic system. And that’s why hybrids in general don’t actually eat through brake pads like conventional brake systems do.

Bryan Salesky
That process is called re-gen with people here, that term, right?

Andre Ramdhanny

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, regenerative braking.

Bryan Salesky
So, one of the things with what you just said is important is, in a typical vehicle if all the electronics behind the brake pedal were to fail, the physical movement of your foot on the pedal moves fluid through that hydraulic system and ultimately will stop the vehicle. Correct?

Andre Ramdhanny

Correct.

Bryan Salesky
So, that’s actually what we call sort of a fail-safe mechanism.

Andre Ramdhanny

Yeah, absolutely.

Bryan Salesky
And so, what we have to do for an autonomous vehicle that someday will have no driver in the vehicle, is we need to make sure that if those electronic systems fail, the vehicle can still stop. And so, the way in which we solve that is by actually adding additional electronics that are powered through separate pathways that have the ability to affect those hydraulics in even slightly different ways, so that if one brake controller or a computer fails, there’s another that’s there to be able to still be able to stop the vehicle.

Andre Ramdhanny

That’s absolutely right. What Bryan’s describing is a redundancy system. So-

Bryan Salesky
Exactly. So, that’s just one small actually change or one system of many that needs to be modified on a conventional vehicle in order to operate safely in a world where there is no foot hovering over a pedal, as an example.

Alex Roy
So transmission, braking system suspension, the tiara on top.

Andre Ramdhanny

Yes.

Alex Roy
How many cameras are in there?

Andre Ramdhanny

Currently nine.

Alex Roy
So, test vehicles out in the field, forward facing camera fails, what happens?

Andre Ramdhanny

Our vehicles?

Alex Roy
Yeah.

Andre Ramdhanny

We lose the ability to engage autonomy, because we can’t see everything that we need to see. We need to have a full 360 view of everything, right? We need to be able to have our perception up, so we can identify what’s what. We need to identify pedestrians from buses, from dogs, from a lady with a stroller. And if one of those goes down, we have to bring the vehicle back in. If we cannot see, we cannot engage safely.

Bryan Salesky
It starts raining, what happens?

Andre Ramdhanny

So the rain is an issue, I think it’s industry-wide. The sensor is not at the level yet where we can deal with the rain just yet. There are other obstacles we have though, but rain is a big one. It’s a huge challenge I think the entire industry is facing right now. And until the sensory gets better, nobody’s going to get beyond that.

Alex Roy
But in Miami it’s humid, there’s light rain. What if mud gets thrown on it?

Andre Ramdhanny

So, our system is quite unique. We have a special cleaning system where we can clean the tiara sensors.

Alex Roy
Is it like a little wipe, like a little windshield wiper that comes out?

Andre Ramdhanny

So, we have a fluid that sprays on it to get that mud or whatever it would be off of the sensors. So, we can actually do that while they’re mid mission, vehicle rolling. That way they don’t have to come back in and compromise the mission.

Bryan Salesky
So, one of the things, Andre, that I love about folks that come out of the racing field is that they’re used to dealing with high pressure situations and are able to improvise at the end of the day. Right? And that’s what keeps an operation going, right? You don’t always have the luxury of, “Oh no, well, I’ll just fix that tomorrow, and we’ll next day ship something.” So, a lot of it’s preparation, but a lot of it’s also creativity. You got any stories for us?

Andre Ramdhanny

Yeah, I do. I actually have a really good one. So, 24 hours of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain, we were running our Aston Martin and 24 GT4 package. We also had a customer running a 197 Clio Cup car.

Alex Roy
A Renault Clio?

Andre Ramdhanny

A Renault Clio, sorry.

Alex Roy
Which is, again, this daily commuter modified for racing.

Andre Ramdhanny

Yeah. It’s a fun little car to drive.

Alex Roy
Yeah, that’s right.

Andre Ramdhanny

So, probably about 12-13 hours into the race somebody collects the Clio up the rear end, and it comes back in, and I mean the rear wheels are pointing in the absolute wrong direction.

Alex Roy
Oh, man, that sounds awful.

Andre Ramdhanny

Yeah, it was really bad. So, we get the car in, and the car has a solid beam suspension. So, think of a U-shape or a C-shape where the wheels are connected at either end. Now it wasn’t U, it looked like a C when it came into us. So, it was all hands on deck at that point. We’re allowed four technicians per car if we’re in the live pit lane or the hot pits.

Bryan Salesky
Oh, there’s a quota. See, I didn’t even know that. Oh, wow.

Andre Ramdhanny

So, different series have different rules. So, we were allowed four techs per car in the hot pits. If you pull into the garage you can have as many as you want. So, we pull the car into the garage, and it was basically all hands on deck. So, we pulled down the entire suspension, and then we get the beam out. We can identify that it’s bent, it’s done. So, we cut a notch into it, right? We got a portapower, straightened it back out best that we could, found some scrap metal, cut a notch out of that, welded it in place where we cut that original notch out, threw it back up in the car.

Bryan Salesky
So, you actually straightened out the frame right there in the pit?

Andre Ramdhanny

Yeah, in a matter of about a half an hour.

Bryan Salesky
So, describe this portapower thing. I’m not sure everyone knows what that is.

Andre Ramdhanny

It’s a hydraulic ram, so you can put it between two objects. Then you can use hydraulic force to move what would be an immovable object.

Bryan Salesky
So, it’s like a spreader, I think is another term for it.

Andre Ramdhanny

Yes.

Bryan Salesky
I think that it might be a term for it. I think I’ve heard it before, I’m not sure.

Andre Ramdhanny

Yes. But it’s a very powerful hydraulic ram, and we just stuck it in there, pumped it up, straightened it out best that we could, and welded it back together, and shipped the car back on the track. Now when we sent the car out, one of the wheels was still super crooked. Now, how you align these cars, because it’s a solid axle under a live axle, you have to shim the rear wheels to adjust camber and toe.

Andre Ramdhanny

So, the car went out and we could see it was just crooked. It wasn’t right. So we told him, “Come back in on the very next lap.” We just jack up the car, we had some washers in there. We just wrenched down on the nut as hard as we could just to crush those washers, sent it back out. And it was straighter. It wasn’t straight. It was straighter. But the guys finished the race like that, and they competed a 24 race.

Bryan Salesky
That’s fantastic.

Andre Ramdhanny

Yeah, that was amazing.

Alex Roy
How they do?

Andre Ramdhanny

They probably finished about 12th in class.

Bryan Salesky
That’s impressive.

Alex Roy
The thing that always gets me about racing, but especially people who, again, don’t follow racing, how many life lessons there are in racing, especially a longer race like 24 hours of LeMons, anything, is you go out and your car has a problem, maybe even a catastrophic problem early on. And there are people in life who, encountering such a problem, you’re like, “It’s over.” And forgetting context, because anything can happen to anyone else at any point, the team that finishes always has a chance to win, always. And the reason there’s three spots in the podium is because the margins are very close.

Bryan Salesky
In my mind it’s teamwork and preparation though, right? If you feel like you’re on your own and it’s all left on your shoulders, you’re going to feel like, “Man, I don’t know what we can do to get out of this.” But when you’re with a really great team it makes all the difference.

Andre Ramdhanny

Yeah. Yeah, I have to agree. And then to touch on that, our team, the few years we did it, the first year we ran with the Aston, we made sure that car was perfect. We had new axles in there that will bed it. We spent weeks breaking them in. So we broke in three sets of brake pads, three sets of brake rotors. We broke in axles, we had spare axles. And that year we actually won the class. And it’s funny you say that first you have to finish. We were, I think, second in class, and then there was a BMW M3 that was leading, and they broke down with something like 30 minutes left in the race.

Alex Roy
Of course, yeah.

Andre Ramdhanny

I mean, sorry for them, bad luck. But that was our win, that was our class win.

Alex Roy
That happened to Toyota LMP a couple of years ago.

Andre Ramdhanny

Oh, that was heartbreaking.

Alex Roy
Toyota had been out of the series for years, and they spent like 80 or hundreds of millions of dollars to deploy a car in 24 hours at Le Mans. They were to win, and I think it was minutes. Minutes and the car failed.

Andre Ramdhanny

Yeah, that was heartbreaking.

Alex Roy
What was the final verdict why?

Andre Ramdhanny

I remember reading about it. I’ve forgot. I don’t want to say something incorrect now. But I want to say it was with the hybrid control basically, the hybrid part of the engine. And they lost the power boost, so the additional 400 or whatever horsepower they get from that, they lost it.

Alex Roy
Back in ’06 when I first went cross country and I thought I was bad-ass, “I’m the best. I can’t fail. I got this, I’m the next Jeremy Clarkson. I’m a hero.”

Bryan Salesky
And you’re nothing like that anymore.

Alex Roy
No.

Andre Ramdhanny

Okay.

Alex Roy
And I remember before our departure I said to my mechanic, and at the time I was so arrogant, I was the kind of person who thought like, “I don’t need to really understand the tools I’m using, I will just pay my way through.” And so, I said to my mechanic, “Make a list of the 10 things most likely to fail. No, make it 20.” He makes a list. I looked at the list and I said, “Ah, replace the first 10 parts. The second 10, don’t worry about it.” And we went, and halfway across country we broke down, and couldn’t diagnose it, and went back home. It was the fuel pump and filter. The filter was clogged. It was like a $100 problem. And that $100 problem, my cheapening out, lazing my way out of it and not really understanding, cost me tens of thousands of dollars.

Alex Roy
And the reason I didn’t look at the 11th thing on the list and the filter is, which a few months earlier that car had been in Africa and we’d use really low grade fuel across 2000 miles of driving, and that thing was just disgusting. And if I had told my mechanic that he would have insisted. And so, compartmentalizing information on a team is suicide.

Bryan Salesky
See, this is more of the parallels I’m talking about, right? It’s the details that matter. And we talk about building an autonomous vehicle, we don’t skimp. We don’t make a list of 30 things and then stop-

Alex Roy
At 10.

Bryan Salesky
… halfway through.

Alex Roy
Actually we call it, “To Alex Roy the problem.”

Bryan Salesky
Well, no, I mean, it’s because we have an experienced team that’s been through these things before and says, “Look, these cars carry people’s lives. We want this to be the best maintained piece of equipment possible.” And that’s the infrastructure we’re creating. And when we talk about deploying fleets of autonomous vehicles in cities, many of these fleets are going to be managed by professionals. It’ll be a better, more well-maintained vehicle than any other personally owned vehicle because it comes back to the shop at night.

Alex Roy
Every night?

Bryan Salesky
Every single night. And not only does it get cleaned, it gets maintained, it gets any sort of periodic maintenance done to it. It has pristine records. We know everything that’s happened and where that vehicle has been. So, it’s a real opportunity for us.

Alex Roy
You can’t say that about the average taxi today.

Bryan Salesky
You can’t say that about the average taxi at all, right? And as the vehicles get smarter and smarter, they’re able to even tell us what’s wrong with it, self-diagnose, give us codes that help us understand what sort of maintenance it needs, so that we do it at the right time. And it’s guys like Andre that are making sure that happens.

Andre Ramdhanny

Yeah. Well, to touch on that a bit more, Bryan said about preventive maintenance, that’s the common thing in dealerships that people pride on, doing preventative maintenance.

Alex Roy
You worked in a car dealership?

Andre Ramdhanny

Yes, I did a few.

Alex Roy
Can you name names?

Andre Ramdhanny

Yeah, I worked for BMW most recently, Audi, Toyota, Acura.

Alex Roy
Oh, God.

Andre Ramdhanny

Oh God, which one?

Alex Roy
BMW, is that your…

Andre Ramdhanny

No, I’m a fan a BMW.

Alex Roy
Well, I have one too. But what goes on there? The client comes in for warranty service. What does that look like? What’s the reality?

Andre Ramdhanny

It’s just a turnaround.

Alex Roy
Do you give a shit? Do you care?

Andre Ramdhanny

So, I care. I think that’s why Bryan hired us, hired me, I should say.

Bryan Salesky
Okay, well exactly. Andre cares.

Andre Ramdhanny

I care.

Bryan Salesky
This isn’t a set up. Come on, Andre, tell us.

Alex Roy
All right. So, I bring in my car, I complain about my BMW. I bring it in. I say. “It’s making a sound like…” All right. The average technician…

Bryan Salesky
I’m sorry, I want to just confirm was it a… Or was it a…

Alex Roy
It was a…

Bryan Salesky
Okay got it.

Alex Roy
All right. So, the technicians, I mean, not you, the average tech in a dealership, how much do they actually look at the notes from the owner to diagnose the problem? Or do they just say, “Ah, it sounds like a thing. Let’s just change…”

Andre Ramdhanny

So, it’s bad for me to say this about people I’ve worked with recently but-

Alex Roy
But we don’t believe in BS-ing our way through stories.

Andre Ramdhanny

No, no. The truth is the truth, and a lot of techs out there would see that complaint on a work order and just say, “Unable to duplicate,” and ship the car back out. And that’s just the honest truth. It’s a problem in the industry.

Alex Roy
So, I have a phantom battery drain on my 2000 M5, and no matter how many times I go to a BMW dealer, they can’t seem to come up with a solution other than selling me a new battery.

Andre Ramdhanny

Oh, they don’t-

Bryan Salesky
Maybe you just need to drive it.

Alex Roy
But it dies at two weeks. Two weeks.

Bryan Salesky
Is it really two?

Alex Roy
Two to three weeks.

Bryan Salesky
That’s pretty weak. That’s more than a drain. That’s a-

Andre Ramdhanny

Yeah, two weeks is a bit soon.

Bryan Salesky
I’ll say.

Andre Ramdhanny

I mean, I was going to agree with Bryan. You need to drive it, but two weeks-

Alex Roy
I’d like to drive. Do you have any other crazy stories of being a tech at a OEM dealership?

Andre Ramdhanny

It’s crazy. I mean, there’s tons-

Alex Roy
Is it any different at BMW versus… Where were you, Acura or [crosstalk 003221]?

Andre Ramdhanny

I enjoyed BMW a lot. A lot of technology there. A lot of good stuff I’ve learnt. But I would say-

Alex Roy
That you would never take your own car back to a dealer, you’d do it yourself?

Andre Ramdhanny

Yeah. No, from day one I’ve never wanted to take my car to a dealership for service. So, unless it’s warranty and I absolutely have to. So, my wife drives a BMW right now.

Alex Roy
Which one?

Andre Ramdhanny

A BMW X1.

Alex Roy
What year?

Andre Ramdhanny

2016.

Alex Roy
Okay.

Andre Ramdhanny

Yeah, with the M package. So she’s fancy. While I’m driving a Honda Element, right?

Alex Roy
But all right. And how far do you live from work?

Andre Ramdhanny

25 miles.

Alex Roy
Okay. So that means that, well, our service is not going to cover where he lives. Where do you live?

Andre Ramdhanny

So, very far Southwest or West Kendall, an area called Kendall. It’s now a new development being called West Kendall, but officially it’s just Kendall.

Alex Roy
And you like driving?

Andre Ramdhanny

Not in traffic.

Alex Roy
So, self-driving is cool?

Andre Ramdhanny

Self-driving is amazing.

Alex Roy
Yeah.

Andre Ramdhanny

So when I was offered the job, one of the first things my wife says, I’m talking to her about it, if I should go for it. She’s like, “Oh babe, maybe they’ll give you a self-driving car to get to work every day.” I’m like, “I don’t think I’m going to be that high up in the company.”

Bryan Salesky
Andre, I’ve been working on this for a long time, and I still don’t have a self-driving car to get home.

Andre Ramdhanny

Right.

Bryan Salesky
So it’s a work in progress.

Alex Roy
But that’s funny though because you said, “Oh, I’m not going to be high up enough to have one.” But the whole point of it is that these things are affordable.

Bryan Salesky
Yeah. I mean, look, you’ll be among the first to have access to the service, which is pretty cool, right?

Andre Ramdhanny

Yes. Yeah.

Bryan Salesky
But, yeah. No, I mean, hey, we’ll eventually expand to the area where you live. It’s just a matter of time.

Andre Ramdhanny

Yes, from what I’ve been told. Yes.

Bryan Salesky
For sure.

Andre Ramdhanny

The map’s going to expand. It’s been expanding. I mean, yeah. Amazing pace.

Bryan Salesky
Yeah.

Alex Roy
Bryan, I got one more question for you. These things have to be affordable, because if they’re not, and then people who can’t afford them are still driving, they’re going to harass and annoy the people that are luxuriously enjoying their self-driving vehicles, right?

Bryan Salesky
We’ll probably be punking them somehow. Yeah. That’s not going to be good.

Alex Roy
Right.

Bryan Salesky
No, I mean the whole point of this is to turn the economics on its head a little bit and make transportation affordable over any distance, any area. That’s the idea. And look, let’s face it, we’re also not taking away anybody’s right or option to drive. I love driving. I don’t love-

Alex Roy
Do you love driving your truck with a camera that your dealers claims is a mirror?

Andre Ramdhanny

Insisted, yeah.

Bryan Salesky
It wasn’t a truck either, actually, but nice try. And I do love driving my truck, actually. But no one likes to drive in super congested areas. No one likes to do stop and go traffic. And that’s what most cities are, right? And so, the ability to read a book, reconnect with your child who may be sitting next to you instead of fighting traffic all day, that’s the promise here. But on the weekend you should be able to take your fancy BMW and drive it wherever you want, right? And have fun with it.

Alex Roy
Oh, we have to hope-

Andre Ramdhanny

Your 2000 BMW M5, right?

Alex Roy
Yeah.

Bryan Salesky
We need a whole episode about the last two minutes of conversation. I’m curious though Andre, if you could commute to work in a self-driving vehicle, what book would you be reading?

Andre Ramdhanny

What book would I be reading?

Bryan Salesky
Yeah.

Andre Ramdhanny

I’d probably read Ayrton Senna‘s biography again or something motor sport related. I’m a bit close-minded, I guess, when it comes to that stuff.

Alex Roy
What was the book? Because there haven’t been a lot of good books about racing. There was one, I think it was called The Racing Driver, Jenkinson. You ever heard of this book?

Andre Ramdhanny

No, I haven’t.

Alex Roy
Years ago when I was writing my book, I was trying to find books written about driving or the art of driving, not NASCAR biographies, I mean books about driving, and I found that there are two books that are most relevant. One was a driving book and one was not. And the driving book was Jenkinson. He was the navigator for… Who was the best driver of all time? The Italian guy, thirties. Fangio.

Andre Ramdhanny

[crosstalk 003644] Yeah, Fangio, right.

Alex Roy
So, Fangio apparently he was in a zone, a psychological zone, and Fangio he couldn’t explain to Jenkinson exactly what was going through his mind as he was racing on the absolute limits of physics of grip, but that he was in a psychological zone that was like transcendent, like spiritual. And Jenkinson said he had only ever observed this elsewhere, I think, in like a doctor trying to explain surgery or doing very complex tasks.

Alex Roy
And then the other book that I read was about the first guy to break the four minute mile as a runner, now his name escapes me too, my memory is really bad today. But in 1958 this British runner, the first person to break the four minute mile, and for a hundred years or more people said, “No human will ever break the four minute mile.” And he did it not because he was the best athlete, but because he was a medical student, and he built the first treadmill to study oxygen depletion in four minute exertions. So, he wrote his thesis about oxygen depletion in four minute exertions, and then using that knowledge broke the four minute mile.

Alex Roy
And after he did it, hundreds of people did it. It was a mental wall. Better athletes were unable to conceive how it might be done. And then after he did it, many people did. And so people are often, in all aspects of life, there’s always another way, if only you apply techniques of others. One probably can’t solve it alone, but you have to just apply external techniques, and you can go to the next step.

Bryan Salesky
All right, one more piece here, Andre. We have a tradition on the No Parking podcast. That tradition is, we ask our guests to tell us about a crazy thing you’ve seen on the road lately. It could be anything.

Andre Ramdhanny

So every day-

Bryan Salesky
You’re in Miami, you shouldn’t have any shortage of examples!

Andre Ramdhanny

Yes, right. Every day, one of my biggest pet peeves about driving home in traffic is driving on the highway, you’re in traffic but it’s moving, and there’s a gap next to you that you can safely make a lane change. There’s about two car spaces, sometimes even more. You indicate to move over, and the car in that lane decides to speed up to block you or just prevent you coming in. This happens to me daily, and I’ve come up with the idea that an indicator in South Florida is a sign of weakness. That’s what it comes down to, because nobody uses it and the minute you use it, people want to block you. And it’s not that crazy of a story, but it happens every day, and it’s the most annoying thing.

Bryan Salesky
It’s a little bit of reverse psychology. By using your indicator, you’re actually giving others an opportunity to know where you’re going to go and then block you. And, wow, yeah. No, it’s true. I have come to the conclusion, after driving here for this past week, that there’s a different form of indicators that we may want to equip our vehicles with.

Alex Roy
Well, is it a fist? Is it a flag?

Bryan Salesky
It could be a number. I feel as though additional tools need to be outfitted onto this vehicle.

Alex Roy
For the record Bryan’s making a face like a spy hunter.

Bryan Salesky
I have ideas and I will sketch them for our tech crew to consider. Thanks, Andre, for coming on.

Alex Roy
Yeah, thanks a lot. Yeah.

Andre Ramdhanny

Thanks for having me.

Bryan Salesky
Yeah, thanks.

Alex Roy
He is a really good guy. I like Andre a lot.

Bryan Salesky
He’s fantastic and, boy, it was really neat hearing about his life experiences, and I didn’t know just how deep into the racing he was.

Alex Roy
Yeah, neither did I and people always come up and want to talk to me about cars and racing cars, driving fast. I don’t actually know that much about the mechanics of a car. I mean, I understand it, but I always thought of myself more as like a team manager organizer. That’s the thing that amazes me about technology companies is that, or actually almost any company, there are people who are very good at solving problems. You don’t need to be an engineer, or a coder, or a programmer to work at a company like Argo. You have to be very, very, very good at what you do. And there are roles across the board.

Bryan Salesky
That’s right. Yeah. You have to be good at what you do and really into your craft, into whatever your subject matter…

Alex Roy
Which is why I should confess, Bryan, I should confess that when my car arrived in California at the end of the Cannonball drive, that I sent it to the mechanic. He said I was within five miles of an axle failure-

Bryan Salesky
Oh, Jesus.

Alex Roy
… because I had failed to calculate the weight of the fuel, and the parts, and the stresses, because I had not actually done the research.

Bryan Salesky
Engineering is about details, Alex.

Alex Roy
And that’s why I’m not an engineer. But you know who could have figured that out?

Bryan Salesky
Case closed.

Alex Roy
Andre Ramdhanny.

Bryan Salesky
Yes. Yeah. Fix it.

Alex Roy
And that’s why he’s the guy who is the service technician and I’m not. Bryan, do you want to tell us about your latest woodworking project, or is that also private?

Bryan Salesky
I haven’t started it yet. I’m not sure what I’m going to do this winter. I usually do something over the holidays.

Alex Roy
Were you self-taught? Is this something you learned to do as a kid?

Bryan Salesky
I actually took woodworking throughout high school. So I had about four years of it and actually, no, now that I think about it, I was even lucky enough to have a woodshop class starting in seventh grade. So I had, actually, six years of it and I loved it and the teachers. I was really lucky. I had teachers who were master woodworkers, like real craftsmen.

Alex Roy
Because a guy like Andre would go into a car dealership and say, “That’s pretty nice as a starting point.”

Bryan Salesky
Yes, that’s right.

Alex Roy
So, do you ever find yourself at a furniture store ever?

Bryan Salesky
I was just in one actually, yeah.

Alex Roy
And do you look around and say, “What, are these people kidding?”

Bryan Salesky
I do. I do look at the joinery, and I get upset when it’s something’s like thousands of dollars, and you could see that it’s like practically stapled together.

Alex Roy
It’s offensive.

Bryan Salesky
It is offensive, I agree.

Alex Roy
And I’m going to confess though, I’m kind of okay with Ikea because they’re not pretending to be great.

Bryan Salesky
Yeah. I mean I’m not a snob about it. Not everything has to be a dovetail joint, but at the end of the day, if it’s stapled together, it’s, “Come on!”

Alex Roy
For those who don’t know what a dovetail joint is, can you attempt to describe it without visuals?

Bryan Salesky
I mean there’s a tail, and a pin, and the two interlock, and it’s a very strong joint because there’s a lot of glue surface area.

Alex Roy
Back to Ikea for me. That sounded solid. Okay, Bryan, of course, I’m going to just say it for you. If you want to learn more about what Bryan’s working on, he always has a great blog post. Look for the most recent one, and you’ll know exactly what’s going through his mind. Is that accurate, Bryan?

Bryan Salesky
You bet.

Alex Roy
That’s at Argo.ai. I’m Alex Roy, you can find me online on all platforms at AlexRoy144, and you can also check out and you should follow No Parking podcast on Twitter. That’s @noparkingpod. Our website, www.noparkingpodcast.com where we have transcripts of all our episodes because we know some people don’t want to listen to a whole episode, and a transcript is a great, great thing. If you want to be a guest on No Parking or know someone you think should be a guest please email us at guests@noparkingpodcast.com. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.