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What Does It Take To Be an Autonomous Vehicle Test Specialist?

Self-driving cars are already being tested on public roads in multiple cities around the world. While they are ultimately designed to operate without humans behind the wheel, most of them currently utilize specially-trained in-vehicle operators to monitor the safe testing and development of the technology. So what does it take to become a Test Specialist for autonomous vehicle technology company Argo AI

That’s the question posed by Harry Campbell, a former Boeing aerospace engineer and longtime Uber and Lyft driver better known as “The Rideshare Guy” on his blog, YouTube channel, podcast and social media — where he dispenses advice, perspective and strategies to other ride-hail drivers. 

Campbell was intrigued about the role of Argo AI Test Specialist after seeing a LinkedIn post for a job listing by Alex Roy, Ground Truth columnist and Argo AI Director of Special Operations. So he invited Roy on an episode of The Rideshare Guy podcast earlier this year

The No Parking Podcast is now re-running that episode in which Campbell and Roy discuss the extensive training involved in becoming an Argo AI Test Specialist, and how ridehail drivers and gig workers in particular might find Argo’s full-time employee position to be a good opportunity. 

As Campbell puts it on the No Parking podcast: “I’ve been driving for close to 20 years now on this earth…when you start driving for hire, the way that you drive someone else around is a lot different than the way you might drive yourself around.”

However, testing autonomous vehicles requires more than just excellent driving skills and experience, as Roy and Campbell get into on the episode. 

At Argo AI, for example, there’s a four-week long training and certification program that’s required for their autonomous vehicle Test Specialist position. Through this training, candidates learn how to observe the entire flow of traffic and all the road users around them, how to describe the road environment verbally through a practice called “commentary driving,” and how to navigate a variety of high-intensity challenges on a closed course. 

Also: when it comes to those hired to test autonomous vehicles, competitors in the industry have taken different approaches. Some hire contract or gig-type positions, while others, such as Argo, invest in full-time employees with benefits and a career path to working in the technology sector.

Listen to the full discussion about this unique job and subscribe to hear more great episodes

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