Salaries of engineers with knowledge of autonomous vehicles are shooting through the roof. In the Silicon Valley, and in India. Lot of that is supply-demand. The domain is at the intersection of many skills - a rare commodity at the moment. There is a reason why IT major Infosys is training 100 of its best engineers in self-driving technologies.
Business Today caught up with David Silver, who heads self-driving cars at Udacity, a company that offers online courses focussed on the jobs of tomorrow. Here's what we found:
1. What is Infosys up to: Udacity is currently training 100 engineers at Infy's Mysore campus. The company's courses are typically nine month long but the engineers here are taking an accelerated four-month version. What are they learning? Machine learning that works with camera images, colour spaces and edge detection, sensor fusion or the task of combining data from multiple sensors to build understanding of the surrounding environment, localisation, control or how to move the vehicle, motion planning or charting a trajectory to follow. At the end of the course, the engineers would 'system integrate' or work in teams to write code that can help run a self-driving car in California. The car got to stop at a red light and move when it turns green. Of course, all of this can be done remotely, sitting out of Mysore.
2. Why are IT services companies interested in autonomous vehicles: IT firms have probably sensed increased interest from clients on a number of different applications for autonomous vehicle technologies. The technologies could be applied to many industries such as mining, warehousing, shipping and logistics, agriculture and farming. Autonomous vehicles is as much about safety mechanisms and advanced driver systems that help humans drive as it is about self-driving cars.
3. Demand outstripping supply: Salaries of self-driving car engineers in the Silicon Valley are one of the highest among engineering specialities right now - above $200,000 a year. In India, such engineers can come for $60,000 a year. The supply is constrained since self-driving cars operate at the intersection of mechanical engineering, software engineering, and statistics-mathematics. David Silver says that while there are a lot of people with one of these skills sets, there are only a handful who know all the three.