I’m an electrical engineer by degree, a software writer by trade. Since my introduction to a Commodore Pet computer in the 6th grade, I’ve loved computers, engineering, and programming. I grew up reading every issue of Discover magazine and tons of science fiction.
Although I’ve never worked on driverless cars, my work experience has some interesting overlaps.
In the mid-90′s, I worked at 3M on a project called the 3M INFO (INtegrated Fleet Operations) System. The INFO system was a fleet management system for metro transit authorities. It involved a suite of Windows applications (my primary responsibility) for scheduling, tracking, mapping, and reporting of all bus locations and statuses. This was accomplished by the the installation of remote computers on each bus containing an integrated GPS, cell phone, and wireless LAN. Each remote computer periodically communicated back its location to a central server at the transit center.
The system was designed, prior to the Internet, at a time when GPS and cell modules were not commonplace. Licenses for the mapping software were VERY expensive (ie: thousands of dollars per license) – nothing like the free Google maps of today.
During the ‘dot-com’ boom and bust, I worked for about a year at a start-up company developing a system (database and web site) intended to help companies track intellectual property, both theirs and their competitors’. Like many others, the company collapsed due to timing, money, and internal conflict between founders and funding providers.
The majority of my professional experience was with Minnetronix, Inc. providing product design, development and manufacturing services to the medical device and life science marketplaces. Minnetronix specializes in custom electronic, mechanical and software engineering for Class II and III medical devices ranging from cardiovascular and monitoring systems, therapeutic and implantable devices, and diagnostic instruments.
I worked there for over 13 years, both as a contractor and full-time employee. The last 10 years were exclusively in IT architecting and designing the internal quality and manufacturing software systems needed to manage the design and manufacture of medical devices.
Early on at Minnetronix I worked on a prototype to a touch screen interface to the Sarns heart-lung machine (Terumo® Advanced Perfusion System 1). This was a revolutionary advance, taking heart-lung machines from a large, monolithic device to a collection of individual, configurable devices on a high-speed, reliable network all talking to a central touch-screen control center.
Additionally, I am the only person to create a fully-functioning simulation of a network-based heart-lung machine in Perl-for testing uses only.
For the past year, I have been developing my own software and website businesses.
Having a background in software and systems design of life-critical systems gives me some insight and understanding into how driverless cars could be safely designed. Having driven plenty, currently owning two cars and paying for gas, repairs, and car insurance, (and contemplating the prospect of having four daughters driving soon!) gives me plenty of insight into many of the areas of life which automated vehicles will impact.