Impacting Worldwide Autonomy Programs at the Cross-Function of Business and Engineering

Applied's application software engineers (ASEs) play a critical role throughout the customer’s AV development journey. Here's a look at how they support AV development teams using their domain expertise.
May 12, 2021

Since the very beginning of the company’s journey, we have always placed our customers at the center of our business. We take pride in making our customers, who are advanced autonomous vehicle (AV) engineering teams, successful and have built an organization that is driven by our customers’ needs. Within that organization, Application Software Engineers (ASE) play a critical role throughout the customer’s AV development journey by understanding and supporting their technical use cases and making sure their problems are quickly addressed.

Because ASEs play a versatile yet unique role at the cross-function of engineering, business, and customer success at Applied, we often get a question about what domain expertise and skill sets are required and what their day-to-day looks like. In this blog, we will dive into qualities that make great ASEs and share examples of how they help customers with solving their complex, technical problems. 

Being the Domain Experts

What makes Applied’s ASEs unique is that customers see them as a trusted partner who will guide them through the complex AV stack integration process and make their development workflows more productive. As such, ASEs are experts in not only Applied’s solutions but also in approaches and best practices for testing and validating the autonomous systems. 

Examples of our ASEs' domain expertise: 

  • Various development methodologies are being used by our customers around the world - from the traditional requirement-driven workflow (the V-Model) to newer, data-driven methodologies enabling a more iterative approach to autonomy development. ASEs understand what makes engineering organizations and their development cycles more effective. 
  • A variety of simulation architectures supports every step of the AV development: software or model-in-the-loop (SIL/MIL) and hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) systems, operating in open and closed-loops, and enabling components to full stack testing on desktop and at scale in the Cloud. ASEs support the integration and the adoption of Applied’s products in various deployment environments at customers’ sites by leveraging their software development and product expertise.
  • An operating design domain (ODD) may significantly differ among different business verticals. ASEs provide guidance to Applied’s customers about the relevant test cases for their defined ODD, as well as on how to expand and leverage the previously defined architecture to scale with increasingly complex ODDs.
  • The right tools with the right feature set are required to serve the ODD across the chosen architecture and development methodology. Understanding these use cases requires deep domain expertise across automotive, autonomy, simulation, infrastructure, and sensors. 

Localizing Applied’s Solutions

Using their automotive and software expertise, ASEs partner with Applied's customers to create solutions for key autonomous vehicle use cases. Common projects might include the creation of a productive local development environment, large scale simulation testing, data conversion, and middleware integration. Now it is time for the ASEs to leverage their field expertise to provide strategic feedback to customers working on core autonomous vehicle technology.

An example of how an ASE might support AV engineers through an integration project: 

A new AV company is interested in improving its development environment with the long-term goal of bringing autonomy application to market faster. Before the engagement starts, the ASE works closely with key customer contacts to better understand the current development flow and integration challenges. The ASE leverages their understanding of software project best practices to work closely with the customer to identify realistic and valuable goals of a proof of concept engagement. 

During the proof of concept engagement, the ASE collaborates with the customer to ensure that the goals identified earlier are being met. The ASE works with the broader Applied team to ensure that custom HD maps are successfully converted and the middleware integration is successful between the customer autonomous vehicle stack and Applied's products. Successful integration often requires the ASE to apply their knowledge about how different autonomous vehicle modules (such as the path planner, controller, and perception modules) work. If the engagement becomes a longer term engagement, the ASE continues to support the customer by answering product questions and working with the product team to extend the product features to meet new needs. During the long term engagement, the customer may be interested in exploring additional use cases such as large scale testing, drive log analysis, and testing with the perception module. At this point, the ASE ensures that the customer is successful towards those goals by leaning into their domain expertise. 

Advancing Customers’ Autonomy Initiatives Faster

Throughout the development cycle, Applied’s customer requirements are evolving. New workflows are being defined such as having the ability to more interactively debug their stack during simulation or find specific insights from a variety of test sources. New features are required to integrate and test additional components in simulation.

Using a short feedback loop, ASEs capture and enable more of our customers’ use cases quickly. Starting with delivering a Minimum Viable Product feature based on well-scoped requirements, ASEs help the engineering team with iterating quickly on feature updates and support our customers with developing their stack faster.

Come Join Us!

Hopefully, you now have a good sense of the profile and responsibilities of Applied's ASEs. While some of our ASEs had autonomy and simulation domain knowledge when they joined the company, many were general software engineers and application engineers who learned quickly about the industry and how our products support AV development. If you’re up for a challenge, apply for an open role -- we’re expanding the team across the globe!