Moore's Lobby Podcast

From the Ground Up—Zoox Turns a Corner with New AV and Sensor System Designs

Episode #53 / 40:54 / October 11, 2022 by Daniel Bogdanoff
Episode Sponsor: Mouser Electronics

What if you started designing an autonomous vehicle from the ground up? How different would it be from what is on the road today? Ryan McMichael of Zoox (an Amazon subsidiary) joins us to discuss how those questions impact the cars and the complex sensor systems that will enable an autonomous future.

Zoox is designing cars with autonomy as a primary requirement from the outset. That means no drivers, no steering wheel, and no gas or brake pedals. As their motto highlights, Zoox builds cars for riders, not drivers. 

In this interesting keynote interview from Industry Tech Days 2022, Ryan McMichael of Zoox and our Moore’s Lobby host, Daniel Bogdanoff, discuss sensor systems for high-altitude balloons and next-generation autonomous vehicles. 

Zoox driverless autonomous electric vehicle.

Zoox driverless autonomous electric vehicle. Image used courtesy of Zoox

While Ryan is having a fascinating career in engineering, his original dream was to pursue something entirely..and I mean, entirely…different in college. And even after transitioning to engineering, it was a “happy accident” that led him to specialize in optics. 

There are many other interesting tidbits in this interview that definitely make it worth a listen, including:

  • How ADAS sensors now include much more than cameras and lidar these days
  • Why Zoox is focusing on mobility-as-a-service
  • The favorite pop culture autonomous vehicle at Zoox


A Big Thank You to Our Sponsor! 



Meet Ryan McMichael

Ryan McMichael is the Director of Sensors and Systems for Advanced Hardware at Zoox. He started at Zoox in 2016, and as part of his current role, he enjoys leading engineering teams to specify, design, build, and integrate autonomous hardware for Zoox’s vehicles.


Ryan McMichael is the Director of Sensors and Systems for Advanced Hardware at Zoox


Prior to joining Zoox, Ryan worked at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab where he focused on optical design of space instruments. Although Ryan has left JHUAPL, he continues to teach two courses in the JHU Space Systems Engineering graduate program.

Ryan obtained his B.S. and M.S. in Optics from the University of Rochester. He has co-authored two publications and has been listed as an inventor on over 64 patent applications.