Velos Labs founder Mock Abdelaal identified a need for autonomous vehicles when he was serving in Afghanistan. “I served three combat deployments … the reason we started Velos was because some of my experiences on active duty, especially in theater, were dealing with vehicles and convoys doing security. But we got into a couple issues where we had to leave our vehicle at a certain place, do a mission and come back to it, and we would find a bunch of strangers around our equipment. Naturally, it was pretty high stakes in those types of situations and definitely not ideal,” says Mock. He adds that he determined after that first mission that he hated driving, preferring the window view so he was fully prepared to defend his team when necessary.
Post military and after attending Georgia Tech for his PhD in aerospace engineering, Mock and his wife began autonomous vehicle research, initially for fun. The more they researched, though, the more they realized this could save lives, whether for our service members or frontline workers like police officers and firefighters.
“We’re still in the prototype development phase, but what we’re trying to do is make the autonomous vehicle possibility into a reality for our war fighters,” Mock explains. “Folks like Tesla and Waymo, they’re handling autonomous driving, but it’s for commercial and commuters. But it really leaves behind the frontline worker and the service member.”
Mock recently joined the Second Service Foundation in Austin, TX, as a Semi-Finalist for our Military Entrepreneur Challenge pitch competition. He walked away with a $1,000 grant, and plans to use it to purchase necessary equipment for their prototype.
When discussing the difficulties of entrepreneurship, Mock chuckled. “You know, it’s the classic founder’s dilemma: there’s only 24 hours in the day and everything demands my respect and attention!”