google hiring drivers

Google is looking in Arizona for “drivers” to ride along in tests of its autonomous cars.

Google is looking to hire “drivers” to test its driverless cars in Chandler, Arizona. The job, called “vehicle safety specialist,” pays $20 an hour and is a contract position, for one or two years, entailing a six-to-eight-hour a day shift, reports Ryan Randazzo for The Arizona Republic.

The company is looking for people with clean driving records and bachelor’s degrees who can type at least 40 words per minute. Google’s ad says the new hire will develop a unique set of skills in vehicles with proprietary hardware and software.

The job will require the workers to occasionally manage as many as four communication channels at once in order to provide engineers with accurate feedback. To qualify, applicants will need to pass several “training checkpoints,” some in the vehicle and some outside of it. Applicants also need to be open to traveling as much as a month at a time.

Gathering Self-Driving Data

The job will require the “drivers” to sit behind the wheel of an autonomous Lexus SUV and gather data while riding through city streets in Arizona’s tech area. Google chose Chandler because it’s the location of Intel Corp. and other tech companies. “We definitely want to be where people are excited about technology in the community,” Google spokeswoman Lauren Barriere said.

Drivers will be working in teams, with one person behind the wheel, and the person in the passenger seat taking notes on a laptop computer. Drivers will also need to take over the controls should the vehicles not know what to do in certain situations. Google’s self-driving cars have responded when there were cyclists nearby and even people on skateboards being pulled by dogs.

Brian Torcellini, head of operations in Google’s Self-Driving Car testing program, said:

Test drivers play an important role in developing our self-driving technology. They give our engineers feedback about how our cars are driving and interacting with others on the road, and can take control of the vehicle if needed […] We’ve hired people from all types of backgrounds, from English teachers to orbital welders.

Google is especially interested in hiring residents of the Phoenix region, since they know the roads and are up to date on local driving habits. The job application can be completed online, and there is an option to use to complete it.

Mapping the Test Area

Google has been using four vehicles to map the streets of Chandler to prepare for the tests. They have been gathering data from radar, lasers, and cameras to create a 3-dimensional map the autonomous vehicles can use to navigate. The mapping is expected to be completed in several months.

Google has been testing autonomous vehicles since 2009. In 2012, it began allowing volunteers to use semi-autonomous Lexus vehicles on highways. At that time, the company was not planning to develop 100% autonomous technology. But it was found that consumers tended to trust the semi-autonomous features so much that they were not paying as much attention to driving as when there were no semi-autonomous features. Google then realized that a fully autonomous car would make the roads safer and possibly reduce car accidents.

Image by iofoto/123RF.

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