How to Land an Autonomous Vehicle Job: Projects

A few days ago I outlined the three components of my effort to land a job working on autonomous vehicles:

  1. Coursework
  2. Projects
  3. Networking

A few days ago I wrote about coursework and many of the online courses that are available.

The projects that I undertook were mostly distinct from the coursework. The three big projects I worked on were:

  1. Lane Detection
  2. Self-Driving Sumobot
  3. This Blog

Lane Detection

The lane detection software was the most immediately gratifying of those projects.

There are a several free collections of road images online, or you could even create your own using a mobile phone in your car.

Then, using OpenCV and a sequence of Canny edge transforms and Hough filters and perspective warps, I was able too identify images on the road. If I were to do the project now, using what I’ve learned since, I’d probably also look at connected components algorithms and gradient contrasts.

I even got to use the Twiddle algorithm I learned from Sebastian Thrun’s AI for Robotics course on Udacity.

When it’s all done, you can run the images together like a video.

Sumobot

This project seemed the most exciting when I started, but it turned out to be a little bit of a bust.

I bought a Zumobot from Pololu and began trying to program it to drive itself.

I got some basic driving maneuvers working, but I started this project too early in my robotics education and didn’t really know how to make progress. Eventually I kind of lost focus and never got back to it.

But with the background that I eventually picked up through further courses, I think I could go back and have a lot of fun with this project.

Blogging

I started this blog as a below-the-radar serious of posts, with the intention of just getting myself up to speed on autonomous vehicles.

I showed it to my little brother at one point, and he suggested publishing the posts more widely.

Friends had told me about how great Medium is for blogging, and I’ve been really happy that I moved my writing here.

Of these three projects, blogging is the only one I have kept up since starting my job on Ford’s AV team. It’s fun, it keeps me current on industry news, and it’s nice to get the constant feedback that people are reading and following what I write.

So thank you for that!

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