It’s Time for More System Dynamics

April 3rd, 2020 by Rafael Maranon
Beer Game Bullwhip Effect Causal Loop Diagram

During these extraordinary days, reading the news and observing the real-time data and responses from policymakers, I realized how valuable it would be to teach system dynamics in our schools and universities to understand the structural foundations and related variables in large complex problems.

Created by Forrester, system dynamics has its roots in control system theory but has been applied to complex problems in social science, economics, politics and business management. System dynamics plays an important role in helping decision-makers avoid suboptimal decisions, often referred to as policy resistance.

The concept is simple: When you introduce a disturbance into a natural system, it may initially be able to cope with stresses and shocks. However, over time the system may react to the disturbance – or exhibit policy resistance – which may seem counterintuitive because of the time delays associated with the reaction. Much of the art of system dynamics modeling is discovering and representing the feedback processes, which, along with stock-and-flow structures, causal-loop diagrams, time delays, and nonlinearities determine the dynamics of a system [Forrester, 1968; Saeed, 1982; Sterman, 2000].

The use of system dynamics helps overcome the limitations in people’s intuition about complex problems and their often logically incomplete mental models. The resulting insights are intended to help scientists, policymakers, the media and the public at large better understand complex multi-cause and multi-effect relationships.

System dynamics simulations can also help the population to understand problems, policies and implications over time, I think it would be a great tool in K-12 classrooms as well as in other professional fields. “Education has taught static snapshots of the real world. But the world’s problems are dynamic,” wrote Jay Forrester.

If you want to learn more about System Dynamics during the shelter-in-place order, the System Dynamic Society is collecting resources from members and others that provide a systems view on the COVID-19 pandemic, including a video from Tom Fiddaman exploring a simple epidemic model for a community confronting coronavirus.

Check also a couple of models I created in the past that related to today’s toilet paper bullwhip effect and how coronavirus threatens the seasonal farmworkers at the heart of the American food supply:


What brought us back to San Francisco?

November 25th, 2019 by Rafael Maranon

After over a year of building a software product between Spain and Russia, we recently moved back to San Francisco.

Our startup Wavyn, a fast-growing collision avoidance mobile app with thousands of drivers all over the world, can operate from anywhere. However, we were dazzled again by Silicon Valley’s unique entrepreneurship lifestyle.

These are the four reasons why we chose San Francisco to grow our startup rather than any other city in the U.S. or Europe:

To dream big is forced

Since I arrived in 2011, most of the people I have met in Silicon Valley are not afraid to think big. They can inspire and challenge each other continuously. If you can’t quickly come up with a few ideas about how to make your product grow 10, 100 or 1000 times you probably are thinking too small. If you are an overachiever, you will love the stimulus and play this game.

“Coopetition” is the secret sauce

Successful entrepreneurs, investors and even competitors in the area generously offer up their time to advise budding startups. If our real competitor is the status quo, why not help each other make things better. After all, we are very passionate about our work and spend precious time solving the same world challenges.

Risk-taking and resilience is admired

In the Bay Area, there is such a level of commitment to success, that it is hard to fail. Either you succeed or you learn how to succeed. That’s why most entrepreneurs invest — positive return is always guaranteed. It’s pretty much like investing in college education: in the long run, the experience will provide a strong network and enrich your life and career, no matter what.

We left our heart in San Francisco

During our time in Europe, I learned that every city or country has its personality and promotes different types of lifestyles depending on its historical big bets, priorities or just inertia. In our case, the decision was clear: entrepreneurship is our lifestyle and the largest concentration of tech startups in the world is in Silicon Valley. Sometimes we don’t know if we live our lives as a startup, or we build our startup as our lives.

W e are passionate about dreaming big and working together to build technology that makes other peoples’ lives safer, easier and more fun. We are not afraid to start over again because we enjoy the process. We love to be pushed and this is a place to learn and grow as we are life-learners. It was great to disconnect for a while because we gained a tremendous and valuable life experience by living out of our comfort zone. We brought back with us new perspectives that we are now sharing with friends and colleagues and fully charged our batteries for the next big thing. We are back!

Originally published at


Trends in Auto Tech (part 2)

May 2nd, 2019 by Rafael Maranon

List of driver assistance features available today

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) enable enhanced situational awareness and vehicle control for easier and safer driving experience.

Most ADAS includes a combination of sensors (cameras, radar systems, ultrasounds, LIDAR and GPS) and artificial intelligence software (computer vision based on deep learning algorithms).

While Tesla think that laser is not the ‘sauce’ for autonomous driving, others like Google argument that in low-lighting conditions where cameras alone do not work, LIDAR is required.

Part 1 of this blog post covered problem and emerging solutions, industry transition, and investments in Auto Tech. In Part 2, you can find the list of technologies and features:

NON-INTERVENTION are the features that only monitor and warn drivers without controlling any part of the vehicle.

Forward Collision Warning (FCW): Alertsthe drivers to a potential collision with a vehicle detected ahead. Uses cameras, radar, or laser (or some combination thereof) to scan the road ahead and to alert the driver if the distance to a vehicle ahead is closing too quickly. The systems alert the driver with an audible, haptic (touch), and/or visual cue. According to the NHTSA, out of the 6 million car accidents that happen on U.S. roads every year, over 40% of them (2.5 million) are rear-end collisions. FCW alone reduced rear-end striking crash involvement rates by 23%.

Lane Departure Warning (LDW): Alerts drivers when their vehicle is about to unintentionally cross into another lane with a visual and audio or sensory cue. A small front camera detect the distance of road surface markings and then analyzes that information to determine if the vehicle is about to drift across said markings. If the turn signal is not activated when this happens, the driver is alerted by a visual warning and an audible tone or a vibration. In 2015, nearly 13,000 people died in single-vehicle run-off-road, head-on, and sideswipe crashes where a passenger vehicle left the lane unintentionally

High Speed Warning (HSW): Alert driver when speeding. Coordinates the car’s position, via GPS, with a database of speed limit information to alert drivers if they’re speeding. This helps drivers maintain a safe driving speed.

Blind Spot Monitor: alerts drivers when there may be something located in their blind spot.

Rear Cross Traffic Alert: provides an alert to the driver that traffic is approaching from the left or right when the vehicle is in reverse.

Traffic-sign recognition (TSR): the vehicle is able to recognize the traffic signs put on the road e.g. “red traffic light” or “school area” or “turn ahead”, and alert driver in case speed or directions is not appropriate.

INTERVENTION are the features that in addition to monitor and warn, also control the braking, and steering of the vehicle.

Autonomous Emergency Break (AEB): Automatically activates the vehicle’s brake, to some degree, when necessary. Use sensors, cameras, radar, and LIDAR to detect an impending vehicle collision. Systems vary from pre-charging brakes, slowing the vehicle to lessen damage or even stop the vehicle before a collision occurs. FCW with AEB reduced rear-end striking crash involvement rates by 39%

Collision Avoidance Assist (CAA): Helps the driver steer around an obstacle in a critical situation. Uses data from the two radar sensors and the front camera to calculate a suitable evasive maneuver corridor. After a warning, it applies a slight steering torque.

Lane Keeping Assist (LKA): Acts to automatically move the vehicle back into the lane. The car will either apply the brakes on the opposite front wheel or use steering input to make the correction. A driver who simply forgot to use the turn signal can easily overcome this by actively steering the car in the desired direction. In model year 2017, lane departure warning was available on 63% of new U.S. passenger vehicle series equipment (5% as standard and 57% as optional)

Speed Limiter (SL): Limits driving speed to a value set by the driver. When the preset limit is reached, the vehicle gently throttles the speed down. The speed limit is not exceeded even if the driver applies more pressure to the accelerator pedal. Europe will require carmakers to install speed limiters from 2022 in all new cars. Safety campaigners described the move as one of the biggest leaps forward in 50 years and said it could save 25,000 lives by 2037.

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC): Automatically speeds up and slows down your car to keep a set following distance relative to the car ahead. Provides some limited braking. A radar and cameras read cars in front of you in your lane. Then the car increase or decrease your car’s speed to maintain a following distance that you set. Advanced versions can even slow and stop your car in traffic jams, then accelerate for you.

Pedestrian Detection (PD): can detect pedestrians who walk into the road in front of the car, warn the driver — and automatically apply full braking power if the driver does not respond in time. 6,227 pedestrians were killed on U.S. roads in 2018, the highest number in nearly three decades. In Europe, 14% of all traffic fatalities are pedestrians.

Park Assist: Helps guide you into a parallel parking spot after searching and finding a viable option. It automatically steer the car but doesn’t brake or shift gears.

Other: Surround view, Remote Control Parking, Park Distance Control, Back-up Camera…

If you car still doesn’t have those safety features, there are mobile apps available that provide basic safety warnings: download Wavyn Beta to try Forward Collision Warnings (FCW) and High Speed Warnings (HSW) on you Android phone.


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