Udacity Student Kiki Jewell on Driving for Cruise Automation
Back when I was trying to break into the autonomous vehicle industry, I applied for a lot of jobs. Including a job “driving” self-driving cars for Google.
I got rejected.
The rules required a clean driving record for the past three years, and 2.5 years prior I had gotten a ticket for talking on a cellphone.
But this is the type of thing you do when you are really excited about changing your career trajectory. You try anything and everything to get close to where you want to be, and the answer always has to be “yes”.
While she is studying to become an autonomous vehicle engineer, Kiki applied to “drive” autonomous vehicles for Cruise. Unlike me, she got the job. And she is learning a ton!
This is not like driving. It is much more like training a driver. You cannot relax and let your driving instincts take over, like driving for a ride sharing company or driving on a commute. You are watching the car drive, and being hyper-alert at all times, in case a human driver acts unpredictably.
How about this?
We’ve had the public throw boxes into the street in front of the car, pretend to roll over the hood as if we’d hit them, try to kick at the sensors, or even just yell at us to go when the car has decided it is still unsafe.
The future seems bright:
There is always room for improvement, and Cruise will be around for a long time, making things better and better, striving always diligently towards unattainable perfection. But they are so far along, and so rapidly improving every day, it’s stunning to watch!