Racers on your mark: Creating a space for students to engage with the full self-driving stack

By | August 31, 2020
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Last year around this time, I found myself on a racetrack in Hockenheim, Germany, at Formula Student Germany as a student on the MIT/Delft team. Formula Student is an international design competition, where students with various backgrounds, ranging from mechanical and software engineering to finance and marketing, join forces to design, build, and race a prototype self-driving racecar. This project was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life; seeing an idea transform from a concept pitch and a system architecture diagram to a car driving itself on a racetrack in Germany was extremely rewarding, but by no means easy.

When we started less than 11 months before the competition, we didn’t know how to build an autonomous vehicle stack. Together with my co-founders we learned as we went while growing a team around us. As students, there are limited ways to gain full stack experience with autonomy — you either get a job or internship in the space or you work on a specific problem in an academic lab. Our goal was to fill that gap and offer a top-notch learning experience to the extremely talented hardware and software people who applied to be on the team.

Now, a year after graduating and beginning my job as a Product Manager at Waymo, I am excited to grow the relationship between Formula Student Germany and Waymo. We plan to create an opportunity for North American students from all sorts of backgrounds including electrical, mechanical, and software engineering to interact with the full AV stack and participate in a longer-term project that brings racing and autonomy together in North America.

As a first step, FSG and Waymo are hosting a virtual workshop on August 29th and 30th for students from North America and around the globe already building driverless vehicles or interested in developing these skills in the coming years. Participants will gain insights on how we create the Waymo Driver as well as learn how to get started from several top Formula Student teams.

Click here if you are interested in joining us for the virtual workshop, and we look forward to seeing you back on the track.

Photo: Copyright Maru Formula Student Germany

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