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Self-driving cars and robots go hand-in-hand — or is that hand-in-wheel?
Either way, Argo was proud to support the 20th annual FIRST Robotics Challenge Greater Pittsburgh Regional competition for high school students that took place March 16-19 at the Convocation Center at California University of Pennsylvania.
FIRST Robotics is near and dear to Argo employees — many volunteer and mentor FIRST teams around the country in their personal time. Now, Argo is leading the fundraising effort to move the Greater Pittsburgh Regional from its current location to Downtown Pittsburgh beginning in 2023.
By hosting the event in Pittsburgh, students and their mentors will be closer to the wide range of local restaurants, businesses, and hotels in the “Robotics Capital.” They will also gain more opportunities to connect with the diverse talent from the many robotics companies that call the city home.
Many other notable companies, institutions, and organizations have joined with Argo in pledging donations to help fund the move, including Arconic Foundation, BDO USA, Carnegie Mellon University, Eat’n Park, EY, The Heinz Endowments, Highmark Health, Howmet Aerospace Foundation, MSA Safety, PNC Bank, and Seegrid — and we welcome and encourage any others.
FIRST, which stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” is a non-profit organization founded in 1989 by inventor and Segway-founder Dean Kamen to inspire kids to pursue their interests in science, tech, engineering, and math. Since 1992, FIRST has organized competitions for students to team-up, build their own robots from scratch, and put them through challenges that test their technical prowess — this year’s challenge involved a kind of robot basketball and robots climbing and hanging from metal beams.
It was a thrilling test of technical skill, teamwork, and FIRST’s ethos of “gracious professionalism,” in which young people of all ages are taught to compete fiercely but fairly, offering help to rivals whose robots break down during competitions. We were delighted to watch the brilliant and motivated student teams compete at this year’s Pittsburgh Regional and look forward to seeing them again next year — in our own hometown!
In a win for researchers, computer scientists, and academics the world over, we announced the second release of Argoverse, our collection of open source, freely usable data gathered from our autonomous vehicles in six cities.
Our new Argoverse release includes a map change dataset with 1,000 scenarios, 200 of which show how the driving environment in cities changed over time as roads were repainted and driving directions altered. Our sensor dataset now contains new object categories such as school buses, dogs, people in wheelchairs and more — totaling 30 labeled object classes. Plus: a lidar dataset with six million high-resolution lidar frames that can help researchers develop new machine learning techniques. And we are offering a new motion forecasting dataset with longer-duration scenarios selected to highlight unusual roadway behavior.
Altogether, it’s one of the largest collections of self-driving car data ever made publicly available. Argo invites anyone to use this data in their own work and to advance the entire field of autonomous driving research! Check it all out here and stay tuned for details on how to participate in our upcoming competitions using the data.
How do women in the autonomous vehicle and automotive industries succeed while maintaining healthy boundaries? And how can their male and nonbinary colleagues support them?
These questions were among the many key ideas discussed at a “Self-Driven Women” panel discussion held by the Women@Argo employee resource group last week to close out Women’s History Month. Panelists included industry leaders (pictured above from left) Summer Fowler from Argo AI, Lori Costew of Ford Motor Company, and Isabel Hungar from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.
The takeaways: Women have lots of opportunities in automotive and tech, and should not feel bad about setting boundaries personally or professionally to achieve them — but colleagues can help by acting as professional sponsors and advocates who endorse their skills, not only as friends and mentors.
Lidar is one of the most important tools in the toolbox for developing safe autonomous vehicles. Argo principal scientist Dr. Laura Leal-Taixé and her colleagues are working on making it even more useful.
The leader of the Dynamic Vision and Learning Group at the Technical University of Munich, Dr. Leal-Taixé shares more about her team’s efforts and her nontraditional journey into the field of computer vision and autonomous vehicle sensors in a new profile published on Ground Truth.
If you work on or follow autonomous vehicles, you may have already come across the SAE International’s six Levels of Driving Automation. This is a set of categories numbered zero through five, established by the global engineering trade group. Each category seeks to group vehicles and vehicle systems based on how much of the driving task can be performed by technology instead of a person.
Great idea, but in practice, understanding what each level means in a non-technical way can be challenging: enter Sam Abuelsamid, Principal Research Analyst at Guidehouse Insights, and writer Andrew Lewis, who each offer their takes on understanding and decoding the different levels.
Abuelsamid’s piece helpfully references how many of the human driving inputs you need to use — hands, feet, eyes, brain — and has already been praised as a valuable educational tool. Lewis, a self-disclosed cat owner and lover, humorously compares the levels to different animals.
Ready to work in the autonomous vehicle industry? Apply here now for opportunities in the U.S., Germany, and remote — including jobs that don’t require advanced or technical degrees.
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