Google Hiring Driverless Car Testers In Arizona - InformationWeek

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5/14/2016
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Google Hiring Driverless Car Testers In Arizona

Google is seeking drivers to test its driverless cars in Arizona. If you meet the requirements, you can earn $20 per hour to sit behind the wheel.

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If you live in or near Phoenix, you could be a candidate to test one of Google's self-driving cars. The tech giant is seeking professional, careful "drivers" to operate its vehicles and provide feedback.

The "vehicle safety specialists," as they are referred to in Google's call for resumes, will be responsible for operating a driverless for six to eight hours per day, five days per week. During that time, drivers will gather data in autonomous Lexus SUVs as they "drive" through the tech hub of Chandler, Ariz., reported The Arizona Republic.

Test drivers will give engineers written and verbal comments on how the car drives and reacts to other vehicles on the road. More importantly, they'll be available to take control of the car should the situation arise, because the cars are not yet ready to fully operate without assistance.

[Google's Gboard brings built-in search to the iOS keyboard.]

While this is a job many people may volunteer to do for free, Google is paying its test drivers $20 per hour for their work. Workers will be employed for contracts of 12 to 24 months.

Unfortunately, the job isn't open to everyone. Google requires applicants to have a bachelor's degree, a clean driving history, and no criminal background. They must also be able to type at least 40 words per minute to complete daily reports and document procedures and tests.

The company also notes applicants must pass a number of training checkpoints both inside and outside the vehicle. All details of the project are expected to be kept under wraps.

So long as you're a good driver and pay attention to the road, Google isn't picky about the type of education or professional background you have.

"The role of test driver is so new that there isn't a particular type of person that we look for," said Brian Torcellini, head of operations for Google's self-driving car testing program, to The Republic. "We've hired people from all types of backgrounds, from English teachers to orbital welders."

Torcellini notes local drivers are preferred for this type of project because they are more familiar with the roads and driving norms. If drivers know the streets, for example, they can pay more attention to how the car is working and less to directions.

There are 34 prototype versions of Google's self-driving vehicles and 23 converted Lexus SUVs driving the streets of Mountain View, Calif.; Kirkland, Wash.; and Austin, Texas, reported The Republic. Combined, they have driven nearly 1.6 million miles in driverless mode.

Google's most recent call for testers comes after a rocky start to 2016. In January, the company filed a report documenting several instances of disengagements from the car's autonomous mode. All took place while cars were being tested on California's public streets.

(Image: Google)

(Image: Google)

Despite some setbacks, automakers are pushing forward to put autonomous cars on the road. In April, tech and auto companies including Google, Ford, Volvo Cars, Uber, and Lyft announced the creation of the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets.

Their goal: to speed up the process of creating federal regulations around society's transition to autonomous cars. The coalition plans to work with businesses, civic groups, and government agencies to encourage the federal government to permit driverless cars on the roads.

While some autonomous vehicle projects have impressed experts, other professionals are skeptical of the future of driverless cars.

Missy Cummings, director of Duke University's robotics program, told the Senate Commerce Committee in March that she believes autonomous cars are "absolutely not" ready to drive on the road in large numbers, citing to their inability to handle poor weather and other issues.

Could Google's extensive testing make self-driving cars roadworthy? If you're in the Phoenix area, you could help answer that question.

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
5/15/2016 | 11:49:55 AM
New NEW Drivers
This is very interesting -- test driving Google Driverless cars, and the requriements for the job. They are resonable requirements, but the job could pay more. Will get a lot of retirees and college students in that part of the US for a lengthy contract with low pay? I hope we find out. 

Also, will driving schools which teach traditional driving soon have to add instruction in "driverless driving"? This is a new market requiring new skills.

Irony abounds.

>> While this is a job many people may volunteer to do for free, Google is paying its test drivers $20 per hour for their work. Workers will be employed for contracts of 12 to 24 months.

Unfortunately, the job isn't open to everyone. Google requires applicants to have a bachelor's degree, a clean driving history, and no criminal background. They must also be able to type at least 40 words per minute to complete daily reports and document procedures and tests.
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
5/16/2016 | 7:02:16 AM
Re: New NEW Drivers
I imagine the pay not being particularly high, is because the day-to-day requirements of the 'driver' are relatively low. Beyond compiling reports, which is something any of us could do, the person behind the wheel will spend much of it simply observing the car perform its functions. It will not be a fun job by any means. 

That said, if you could listen to podcasts while you do it, I might consider it. Especially since the weather is far better there too.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
5/20/2016 | 6:43:47 AM
Re: New NEW Drivers
Whoopty, I don't think listening to podcasts when the only thing you actually have to do is sitting there paying attention to how the car performs, and most likely taking notes to later on fill out the reports is in place. How much would you expect the pay to be if $20/hour seems low to you? -Susan
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
5/20/2016 | 10:47:34 PM
Re: New NEW Drivers
$20 per hour is certainly good pay for this assignment. It seems like the perfect job for an underemployed recent college grad, although I wonder if Google will be taking auto insurer actuarial approach to drivers and sticking with age groups and genders that are typically safer than others?
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
5/21/2016 | 8:47:08 AM
Re: New NEW Drivers
I interesting question re insurance actuarial issues. So no teenagers or seniors, two groups with poor driving records? The role of insurance companies in all of this has yet to be fully revealed. The companies are very conservative and hardly open to innovation.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
5/22/2016 | 10:28:27 PM
Re: New NEW Drivers
There's a good chance that Google is self-insuring this experiment --- meaning they've got their own money in the bank in case something happens. Still, they have some commercial insurance company or three presumably on the hook if something really bad happens --- god forbid, accidents that cause loss of life. I'd love to know what those insurance companies think of this experiment.
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
5/23/2016 | 9:58:41 AM
Re: New NEW Drivers
@broadway -- very interesting point.

Maybe down the road Alphabet has to get into the car  insurance business -- or buy a company that already is in the business -- as a way to launch their vehicles -- if existing insurance companies are too slow to keep up with technology
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
5/23/2016 | 11:07:47 PM
Re: New NEW Drivers
There were getting into the insurance space --- as a marketplace/agent. They may look to get into it as an underwriter. That would be very interesting and solve some of their problems, but they would enter a whole regulatory world --- at least in the US --- that is very complicated and driven state and state, so to speak.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
5/20/2016 | 6:37:04 AM
Re: New NEW Drivers
jastroff, <"Also, will driving schools which teach traditional driving soon have to add instruction in "driverless driving"? This is a new market requiring new skills."> At some point not far from now, traditional driving schools will cease to exist simply because there will not be market for their service. New drivers will not be interested in traditional drving, unless they do it as a hobby, and something to experience a retro way of interacting with a vehicle. Most new drivers will have self-driving cars. So, driving schools and driving instructors will have to change their line of work, just as so many others. Or, maybe having old-driving skills will be a requirement even if you own a self-driving car, just in case you have to take control of the vehicle. -Susan
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
5/20/2016 | 9:54:51 AM
Re: New NEW Drivers
This is all a very interesting line of development, but without datapoints and other evidence, it's really impossible to predict timelines. 

There is an economic argument as well; unless self-driving cars are very cheap, people who still can only afford high mileage used cars, you know, people with less money than the middle class, will keep driving those for some time. 

>> At some point not far from now, traditional driving schools will cease to exist simply because there will not be market for their service.

 

I suspect not in your lifetime or mine.

>> New drivers will not be interested in traditional drving, unless they do it as a hobby,

Do you have consumer surveys on this? Would like to see them.

>> Most new drivers will have self-driving cars.

Haven't seen one prediction that says this.

When the technology fails, do people still have to know how to park? Break? Pass on the left? 

What is clear is that with state and federal laws, insurance issues, and technology issues, the adoption curve here is long, and will be implemented in some places and not others. Further complicating the issues is a mix of regaulr and self-driving vehicles sharing roadways, something that may limit where self-driving cars can safely operate.
Michelle
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Michelle,
User Rank: Ninja
5/20/2016 | 5:52:38 PM
Re: New NEW Drivers
I'm really curious about the working conditions for these drivers/testers. I assume they will have a test plan to run during each shift. I wonder how Google intends to keep testers engaged during the whole shift. This job sounds both boring and incredibly dangerous all at once.
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
5/20/2016 | 5:53:53 PM
Re: New NEW Drivers
Great point

>> this job sounds both boring and incredibly dangerous all at once.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
5/16/2016 | 7:12:14 PM
What the driver in a driver-less car does
If you ended up as a Vehicle Safety Specialist in the right part of Arizona, let's say far out on the backroads in the desert, you might be able to graduate in record time from an online university.
NickHickman
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NickHickman,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/17/2016 | 7:53:35 AM
What happens if...?
Do they recoup back pay when the thing does hit something? There'll surely be a good amount of napping and book reading.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
5/19/2016 | 10:40:09 PM
Re: What happens if...?
Dude, come on! No napping and no reading! Their one job really is to pay attention and make sure nothing bad happens. If a car crashes under their watch, they should have their pay docked until they pay back for the damages. They have a noble missions, to further the future of humankind vehicle civilization.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
5/20/2016 | 1:03:42 PM
Re: What happens if...?
And, of course, as we all know, no matter how much testing/reporting/feedback is completed before making this available to the masses - something Google never expected WILL happen.  It's just a matter of time.
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
5/20/2016 | 5:56:19 PM
Re: What happens if...?
Not to worry. Google just announced they want to make the front of the cars stickey, so if you get hit by a car, you literally STICK to the front of it, and don't get thrown.

Well, that's out-of-the-box thinking with some merit. But I hope the car doesn't hit a wall, or another car...you would be a human sandwich
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
5/20/2016 | 6:25:46 PM
Re: What happens if...?
@jastroff: Are you serious?
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
5/20/2016 | 7:02:32 PM
Re: What happens if...?
Yep. It's called the Sticky Car Patent. For real
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
5/21/2016 | 11:13:11 AM
Re: What happens if...?
From The Guardian newspaper –

>> Google has patented a new "sticky" technology to protect pedestrians if – or when – they get struck by the company's self-driving cars

The patent, which was granted on 17 May, is for a sticky adhesive layer on the front end of a vehicle, which would aim to reduce the damage caused when a pedestrian hit by a car is flung into other vehicles or scenery.

"Ideally, the adhesive coating on the front portion of the vehicle may be activated on contact and will be able to adhere to the pedestrian nearly instantaneously," according to the patent description.

 "This instantaneous or nearly-instantaneous action may help to constrain the movement of the pedestrian, who may be carried on the front end of the vehicle until the driver of the vehicle (or the vehicle itself in the case of an autonomous vehicle) reacts to the incident and applies the brakes."

 "As such," it continues, "both the vehicle and pedestrian may come to a more gradual stop than if the pedestrian bounces off the vehicle."
Shed_Dweller
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Shed_Dweller,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/26/2016 | 2:23:47 AM
Re: What happens if...?
Adds a fun new way to pick up the mother-in-law from the airport...
webbrowan
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webbrowan,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/22/2016 | 5:44:45 AM
Re: What happens if...?
The offer might seem attractive with a certain financial amount as a reward. However, the deal comes with a catch. Since the car has not been tested, there is a level of safety risks to be taken into consideration by the test driver before obtaining that monetary reward.
webbrowan
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webbrowan,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/31/2017 | 11:18:29 PM
Re: What happens if...?
It does sound too good to be true. There are pros and cons that the tester would have to go through behind the driverless car. Since it is system-controlled, the tester would have no control whatsoever even during an emergency situation. There have been instances in which a driverless car lost control upon hitting a barrier meant to block out road works. So, the tester would have to agree to sit through that.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
5/20/2016 | 6:55:06 AM
Re: What happens if...?
NIck, car safety depends on these test drivers. If they are not going to do their job lives could be compromised in the future, accidents might occur because some test drivers were napping and reading instead of noting car behavior on the road. They have some responsibility there. If they want to nap and read they should not apply for the job. It would be irresponsible. -Susan
Shed_Dweller
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Shed_Dweller,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/19/2016 | 11:56:48 PM
$20 per hr and must have a degree?
They are only paying $20 per hour and the applicants must be degree qualified graduates..

Who will flip the burgers at McDs for 12 months, if Google steals all their arts graduates..?

 
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