An internship or part-time job in an autonomous vehicle company or in the self-driving engineering department within a large company is a good way to learn more about this industry while gaining valuable work experience. Search the Web sites of companies that may interest you, such as BMW, Cruise, Tesla, among others, for job opportunities. You can also find job listings on sites such as Indeed, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, SimplyHired, to name just a few.
Read online publications and articles about self-driving vehicles to keep up with the engineers and companies involved in this field. Follow them on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter to learn their insights and news. Another excellent way to explore this profession is by speaking with people who work in the autonomous car industry. Ask your school's career services office for help with setting up informational interviews with driverless car engineers. Be sure to prepare a list of questions before you meet.
Driverless car engineers may have experience in the following engineering fields: electrical, robotics, controls and drives, sensor system, and systems. They work with hardware and software as well as with electrical and communications systems. They use software code such as C++, Linux, and Python in developing efficient, safe operation systems for autonomous vehicles. They analyze the data from autonomous cars or from entire models of cars to improve the operating systems.
The job involves analyzing and solving complex technical issues in robotics and other areas and collaborating with other engineers such as hardware and systems engineers. Driverless car engineers may work on the motion planning and decision-making systems in self-driving cars, as described in a job posting for software engineers at Waymo. The engineers who work in the planning and controls area are responsible for ensuring that the vehicles operate safely, smoothly, and predictably for the drivers and all road users. Driverless car engineers are also responsible for analyzing and understanding the autonomous vehicles' performance and operation systems in order to address future driving challenges.
Driverless car engineers make sure that the sensors and computer controls in the cars are interacting and operating properly with the environment. There are currently six levels of vehicle automation, as recognized by the U.S. Department of Transportation and automotive organizations: no automation (total driver control), driver assistance, partial automation, conditional automation, high automation, and full automation. The automation that a growing number of cars have includes adaptive cruise control, parallel parking, driver fatigue detection, accident avoidance, and lane guidance.