Domo arigato Mr. (Autonomous) Roboto

published9 months ago
4 min read

Hey there,

Hello friends! Way back in fall 2019, back when we were carefree & congregating in large groups for fun, I got to do a test ride in an early version of an autonomous taxi at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The name of the company? Optimus Ride (which I’m sure is an homage to my favorite Transformer as a kid, Optimus Prime.) Side note: if you haven’t watched the video for Mr Roboto, I highly recommend it for its sheer 80s kitsch entertainment value.

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The allure of self-driving vehicles is huge for most techies, with the initial focus on personal vehicles and then an expansion to commercial vehicles (like taxis and mac trucks). Waymo, one of the most well-known self-driving projects, can trace some of its origin story to Carnegie Mellon University. In the late 1980s, CMU was also known for developing the ALVINN (Autonomous Land Vehicle In a Neural Network), which looks like a self-driving ice cream truck. A few years later, Sebastian Thrun joined the CMU computer science department & did much of his early work on robotics there, before leaving for Stanford. Thrun then helped found Google X in 2009 with Anthony Levandowski, with the first major X project focusing on self-driving cars. X incubated this project for several years, then spun it out into Waymo in December 2016. In May 2020, Waymo received a $3B investment from venture capital and private equity investors, so they continue to find their “WAY forward in MObility.”

Another company which made a failed foray into self-driving cars was Uber. The Uber Advanced Technology Group (ATG) was based in Pittsburgh (right near CMU) and was Uber’s answer to helping make its ride-sharing unit profitable. There was another self-driving Uber Freight unit based in San Francisco, co-founded by Levandowski. That imploded in 2018 when Waymo sued & Uber settled, as Levandowski was later convicted of stealing Waymo’s technology & served 18 months in prison. [Fun fact: I visited the UF offices with a small group of students for a private tour & chat with the co-CEO Lior Ron in Dec 2017 shortly before the scandal broke. Very cool technology but huge oops!] ATG then shifted to focusing solely on developing passenger vehicles until December 2020, when they were sold to Aurora Innovation. Super curious to see how Uber charts its path to profitability now.

And there is also a wave of self-driving commercial cars in development. Cruise, a majority-owned subsidiary of GM, had announced in Jan 2020 the launch of a new electric autonomous shuttle car, to be used primarily within urban environments. Chinese WeRide received $200million in funding in Dec 2020 as part of the race to build autonomous vehicles in China. Right around that time, Amazon's Zoox acquisition launched its first vehicle, another similar autonomous robot taxi. And all of these definitely look like toasters on wheels. Some would say that the cute & innocuous design is to help a wider group of consumers to feel comfortable with trying this technology, whereas many early adopters love the sleek & futuristic look of cars like Tesla instead. The boxy style of many self-driving cars also facilitates functioning of the complex web of sensors these cars need to work properly. And speaking of, Tesla has included ‘auto steer’ features in some of its vehicles for a while, but just announced that Full Self Driving could be here for car owners as soon as April 2021.

The line between tech firms and car companies is continuing to blur, especially when you see the more traditional car company Hyundai outlaid around $1B in December 2020 to acquire robotics firm Boston Dynamics.

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  1. Make sure your resume is optimized both for a human reader AND an ATS.
    1. Tech companies haven’t developed a perfect AI solution to the tricky process of hiring, so during the resume review process, you’ll likely have humans AND applicant tracking systems reviewing your documents. You have to ensure it will work for BOTH of them.
    2. Here are 5 tips to help you optimize for both types of readers:
      1. Structure: I apologize to the more creative types, but your resume should be in a traditional formatted structure. It’s easier for both computers and humans to scan quickly when your resume is in a consistent format, with headings, company names, and titles organized chronologically. (Save your creativity for your portfolio, where you can really shine!)
      2. Keywords: ATS systems love to extract all the keywords you feed it, but if you put too many jargon-y words on your resume, the human will get annoyed - or worse, distracted from the story you are trying to tell them about your qualifications for the role. Use the company’s job description to lift the best keywords for the skills they find valuable. Recruiters love it when you use their words! You can also use tools like Jobscan or VMock to help you identify additional keywords to add to your resume - or book some time with me to help you!
      3. File type: I always recommend that applicants use a pdf. It helps you maintain the formatting you want, and the human reviewer doesn’t need to worry if there are any weird Word macro viruses that hitch a ride on your resume. The only caveat here: when applying to Microsoft, you may want to use a Word doc!
      4. No typos: This should be mega-obvious already, but spelling mistakes or other typos are a big no-no. If your resume is the only way a company is able to get to know you as a candidate, and you are unable to show attention to detail in this one document, it’s an easy way for them to screen you out. You could have many other amazing and relevant skills, but they might not see them if an ATS screens you out because of typos.
      5. The Resume Secret: You actually want a recruiter to spend less time on your resume. Controversial, I know - but it’s true! The reason you put so much work into your resume is to make the resume screener’s job easy, whether it’s an ATS or a person. You want a recruiter to scan quickly, say Yes to themselves. This will move you forward to an interview -- because they can see instantly you have the right/enough qualifications for the role!


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How to Escape the Confines of Time and Space According to the CIA : these are such odd words to see strung together.

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