When you talk about cars these days, the subject of the self-driving car is bound to come up, and rightly so – it’s a bona fide revolution, complete with mass disruption, happening right before our eyes. There have been a lot of technological breakthroughs in fields like sensors and artificial intelligence leading up to the developments that are set to put robots behind the wheel in the coming years, but no one person has had quite the influence on the field as John Krafcik. As such, he’s managed to top The Drive’s list of the most influential people in automotive technology, beating out Gran Turismo game lead Kazunori Yamauchi, Waze founder Uri Levine and even the iconic head honcho of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk.
Before Krafcik headed up the foremost self-driving effort in the burgeoning industry, he served his time as the CEO of Hyundai and managed to pull the struggling car maker out of the gutter. He also spent some time as the design head at Ford, where he helped to redux the Ford Expedition for a new, modern audience, among other feats. As head of Google’s self-driving efforts, Krafcik is responsible for overseeing everything from vehicle design to integration and data collection. Every decision that has to do with Google’s autonomous automobiles has his name on it, in some part, from how the cars were taught to deal with rain to how cautious they are around children. Dealings with governments, both in the U.S. and internationally, in regards to self-driving cars, also end up involving him.
Also on the list was Pete Tenereillo, creator of the Trapster speed-trap finding app that had garnered 10 million law-conscious users before Nokia gobbled it up, as well as Dan Greenawalt, responsible for the hyper-realistic Forza series of racing games. Apple designer Jony Ive made the list for essentially bringing industrial design into vogue both in and out of the smartphone world, while Apple CEO Tim Cook made the list due to the long reach of Apple’s influence into the auto space, including Apple Carplay and rumored work in the electric and self-driving vehicle spaces.