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Meet Bahram Zonooz: Taking the lead on TomTom’s journey in AI

As a new VP of Engineering and Applied Science at TomTom, Bahram Zonooz is ready to put the map “at the forefront of a new tech revolution.” We sat down with the AI expert to find out more about his journey, what brought him to TomTom and what excites him in the world of mapping.


“I never liked repetitive homework assignments,” Bahram tells me. “You know, taking a pen and writing things over and over. I always thought, why can’t my pen be smart enough to do it for me?” 30 years later, he’s working in a field that’s making such automation possible.

On the road to AI

Bahram got into AI and machine learning about 15 years ago. “At the time, AI was just a fancy word,” he says. Starting in academia, Bahram was always fascinated by the brain. This marvellous piece of ‘machinery’ became his north star as he navigated towards AI, traversing the realms of AI and neuroscience, as he collaborated with acclaimed researchers across countries and attained his Ph.D.

His passion continues to date, and he has brought his unique expertise to tackle major challenges in industry. As the chief AI Scientist in a mapping company, Bahram led diverse teams composed of engineers and researchers, championing the development of cutting-edge AI-powered solutions for location-based services and advanced technologies that are integral to autonomous driving and the creation of maps. His teams have significantly contributed to shaping the landscape of next-generation automation, leading to numerous patents and opening new directions for research and development. Today he continues to push innovation through his affiliation with the Eindhoven University of Technology. As an AI assistant professor, he is developing next-generation AI models that are inspired by our brains and capable of adapting to new environments.

Starting a new journey at TomTom

Searching for his next challenge, Bahram had received offers for senior leadership positions in California and was on the verge of moving to Silicon Valley. However, his journey took an entirely new path, as TomTom proved to be a perfect fit.    “What interested me the most,” Bahram tells me, “is that TomTom continues to innovate itself. I admire the fact that our CEO is one of the company’s original founders and holds a majority of the shares. It’s quite rare for a CEO to have founded a company and still be running it after three decades. It’s evident that he’s truly passionate and cares about the product. We’re making strategic changes that many companies at this level or stage wouldn’t even consider.“ 

At the heart of a new tech revolution

At TomTom, Braham explains, ”We’re placing the new map at the forefront of a new technological revolution. We have access to extensive data, are a renowned brand and have significant mapping expertise that enables us to integrate emerging technologies with our existing capabilities.“

”It’s all about our ability to efficiently manage processes without human intervention,“ Bahram continues. ”What excites me is TomTom’s role as a key contributor to this transformation.“

Engineering the first real-time map

“The goal is to leverage the rapid progress in AI and machine learning to revolutionize the process of building maps and engineer a truly dynamic, ever-evolving map – the first real-time map. This involves unlocking the potential for automated, real-time processing of vast data streams from diverse sources by seamless development and integration of cutting-edge AI algorithms.”

It’s a complex problem, that Bahram is excited to take on: “I aspire to engineer automated pipelines that capitalize on crowd-sourced data, culminating in the creation of the freshest, most comprehensive maps imaginable.”

What does it take to work with Bahram?

He says, ”If you possess a solid foundation in AI and Machine Learning, coupled with an unwavering enthusiasm for staying up to date with the latest breakthroughs, substantial experience in managing extensive datasets, and the readiness to harness diverse sources of data, join us as we collaborate towards the creation of the world’s most advanced, high-coverage and current map" 

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