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Who’s Winning Silicon Valley’s Driverless Car Race and How to Source Top Talent?

Posted in September 2018

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​The race to reach the finish line in bringing driverless cars into the market is heating up across Silicon Valley.

Companies like Uber and Lyft are investing in driverless car technology, and tech start-ups such as NuTonomy, a spinoff from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has announced its intention to launch driverless taxis in Singapore in 2019.

But it’s Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc, Google’s parent company, that remains the clear leader of the pack as it prepares to launch its autonomous ride-hailing service for paying customers by the end of 2018. Following closely behind is General Motors - GM is currently on schedule to launch production of autonomous vehicles in 2019. In hot pursuit of the two leaders, Daimler, owned by Mercedes Benz and working with car supplier Bosch, aims to launch driverless taxis in late 2019.

Driverless deliveries to your doorstep

In the meantime, August saw the launch of a grocery delivery and mobile store pilot project by AutoX which is now bringing driverless technology to the doorstep of 400 homes in San Jose. The company first got permission to test self-driving cars in 2017. While its permit requires a human in the car to ensure safety, it’s anticipated that the cars will drive themselves.

AutoX aren’t alone in their ambition. California based organizations Nuro and Starship Technologies are just two more among the numerous start-ups harnessing the power of driverless technology for delivery vehicles.

How close is the launch of driverless cars for public use?

With the challenges associated with software and AI, coupled with concerns surrounding public trust, it may not be as close as we think. Fortune magazine notes that to date, no company has tested autonomous vehicles at Level 5 (fully autonomous) – at this level even trailblazer Waymo is in the pilot stage. What’s more, it predicts that widespread adoption is years away.

But that’s not preventing tech entrepreneurs from expanding their horizons and exploring the application of driverless car technology in other modes of transport.

Reach for the sky : Is the future autonomous flying?

The New York Times reports that SkyRyse, an ambitious startup in Silicon Valley, is aiming for the sky – literally – with a goal of augmenting small helicopters and passenger aircraft with the technology to allow autonomous flight. And, Uber plans to launch a flying taxi-service in 2020, and with the goal of making itself-flying, the sky’s the limit.

But ambition requires the top tech talent, and competition is fierce. Apple has reportedly poached one of Waymo’s most talented engineers to work on its self-driving car project Titan.

The challenge of sourcing talent is harder for start-ups across Silicon Valley. Salary expectations, the soaring cost of living and competition from global tech giants such as Google and Facebook have intensified the war for talent in the area, forcing businesses to look further afield for talent.

5 Tips for Sourcing and Securing Technical Talent in Autonomous Driving

  • Widen the talent pool. Seek talent outside of the industry (i.e. candidates from academia or robotics). As well as candidates from other locations in the US.

  • Consider offering remote working options or satellite operations.

  • Focus on providing a positive candidate interview experience. Competition is tough so focus on creating a quick and well-defined interview process. Moreover, remember to sell throughout.

  • Consider hiring someone in an industry expert role. This is a new industry, with new technology and constant innovation. Some firms are now hiring candidates into ‘professor’ roles to innovate and continuously educate their employees on the industry and the new tech.

  • Be flexible and creative with compensation. Remember, one size does not always fit all. Give candidates a choice as to whether they want a package focused on cash or equity. Plus, be creative with benefits – many organizations are now offering free EV charging for example.

For more information or help on finding top talent for your business, please reach us at Or if you are looking for your next tech role, view the latest Glocomms openings in machine learning, data science and more here

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