This blog series called “Behind the Scenes” is designed to give you a special look at what our robo-tastic team members – or ‘Clearpathians’ as we call ourselves – do here at Clearpath. If you missed the previous post on Technical Sales, check it out here. Today, we’re speaking with PJ who is one of our rock star Autonomy Engineers.
From the beginning
PJ is part of the software team that specializes in making our robots autonomous. He works with open source software, mainly ROS, and develops perception and control software for a variety of robotic platforms and solutions that Clearpath engineers. So what got PJ involved in robotics in the first place? “I’ve always been intrigued by robotics, especially autonomy, and how the technology is poised to change the way people live and work – just like computer technology changed the world in the 80’s and 90’s,” he says. This is the thinking that prompted PJ to throw his hat in the ring – the robotics ring, that is.
As a robotics student, PJ was an avid participant in robotics competitions throughout North America – IGVC and Robot Racing, to name a couple. It didn’t take long to collect a decorative wall of trophies and, likewise, catch Clearpath’s attention. When PJ came a knockin’ to fill an autonomy engineering position in 2012, we were excited to welcome him aboard!
Making an impact
Fast forward a couple years, PJ has become one of Clearpath’s game changers; he’s continuing to make a real impact in the industry through his contributions to the ROS (Robot Operating System) community and software integration with custom projects. “The engineering team at Clearpath is pretty unique,” said PJ. “We’re at the cutting edge of engineering development as we are fundamentally working on new technology. As such, this requires us to constantly push the limits of what is possible in mechanical, electrical and software design.” PJ tells us that the most exciting aspect of his work is the direct impact it has on the industry; “Every contribution is important and has the ability to shape not just Clearpath’s products but the robotics industry over the next decade.”
At Clearpath, the learning really never stops. Not only does PJ now understand the context of the latest mathematical notions and their applications, he’s also been able to apply them to fit the needs of customers in a variety of sectors like agriculture, mining, industrial research and manufacturing. These experiences are what have led to PJ’s growth in skills, abilities, and reinforce his belief that robotics and autonomy are the way of the future …we tend to agree!
Ingredients for success
It’s important to have insight and a complete understanding of the robotics field from a top-down perspective; “We make complex systems that require meticulous and detailed designs by people with specific skills sets. So, it helps to have an understanding of the challenges that you and other engineers around you could be facing,” he says.
The rest of PJ’s advice is simple, “love what you do! …The rest will follow.”
So PJ, what’s your most memorable Clearpath experience to date? “Hands down it’s when I got to work with Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet to hook up Grizzly and tow a Boeing 737 airplane! That was intense and a lot of fun!”