Google’s looking for self-driving car, Knight Riders

If you live in Chandler Arizona, have a clean drivers licence, are prepared to drive 6-8 hours a day, five days a week and can type 40 words-per-minute. Then Google might have a job for you as a Vehicle Safety Specialist (also known as the Knight Riders) - you will be the skipper of your very own Google self-driving car.

Now, driving 6-8 hours a day is not easy, but think how cool it will sound next time you're out at a party, and you tell people that you are with the Google self-driving-car project; oh and also pays $20 an hour!

As the Vehicle Safety Specialist (has a nice ring to it, doesn't it), you will be watching how the car drives and providing feedback to the engineers. Of course, you may need to use your 'Cobra' like reflexes (no, Cobra like reflexes are not a requirement...yet) to take over driving in case the car behaves badly. The engineering team will later be able to replay the situation and access what the vehicle would have done if the driver hadn't taken over.

Google’s looking for self-driving car, Knight Riders

Currently, Google has a fleet of 23 Lexus RX450h SUV's and 34 custom built vehicles that were designed from the ground up. Since the beginning of the project in 2009, the vehicles have autonomously driven over 1.5 million miles and have manually been driven just over 1 million miles; that's about 10 - 15k a week.

Amanda, one of the current Vehicle Safety Specialists had this to say about her favourite part of being a test driver, "knowing that my contribution to the project can help transform mobility and make our roads safer." Amanda goes on to describe a few of the challenges, "Austin’s traffic lights are horizontal, and vertical in California. But there’s also subtle driving behaviors to be aware of, like how our cars interact with cyclists differently in Austin. Specifically, when we make a right turn, we avoid moving into the bike lane (in Mountain View, on the other hand, you’re supposed to move into the bike lane when turning). I’ve also encountered a lot more large bushes and low-hanging trees in Austin. That may not seem like a big deal, but our cars used to sometimes come to a full stop when faced with protruding vegetation or overhanging trees. Now our cars can recognize trees and bushes, and nudge around them appropriately."

Keep in mind potential Knight Riders, that you are signing up to teach a car to drive on its own; so don't be surprised if your job doesn't exist in a decade or so. I don't want to hear that you didn't see it coming.

If you think you got what it takes, then apply here, or if you want to learn more about Googles autonomous car testing centre, head over to Backchannel.

Also published on Medium.