OTTO™ Motors is making material handling in industrial settings safer, easier, and more efficient through development of hardware and software that automates movement of goods in busy factories and warehouses. The company’s industry-leading self driving technology provides automated and on-demand material handling in the most demanding industrial environments, spanning automotive, medical device, aerospace, logistics, and more. Customers trusting their mission-critical material handling needs to OTTO Motors include Fortune 100 brands GE, Toyota, and Caterpillar. For more information visit www.ottomotors.com.

Get to know the humans of OTTO Motors, what they do and why they chose a career at OTTO Motors!

Meet Daniel, a Systems Integration Engineer at OTTO Motors.

Q: How did you get into Systems Engineering?

I started with OTTO Motors in our Quality department, automating our hardware tests. For about a year and a half my role was focused on Root Cause Analyses, envelope testing, and defining / documenting processes within that department.

Working with the OTTOs every day — defining test workflows, writing little ROS nodes / bash scripting, poking and prodding at the limits of OTTO performance — got me interested in Systems Engineering. When the opportunity came up to join the team, supporting a couple nearby projects, I discovered I also really enjoyed the travel and time onsite with customers. I formally joined Systems shortly after that.

Q: What drew you to Clearpath?

After university, I worked for a robotics startup in Toronto. Much of my work there was modifying ROS packages originally developed and open-sourced by Clearpath. Working within that framework showed me not just how versatile robotics could be, but how accessible. It really demystified a lot of related subjects for me, and made me feel like I could get much more than a surface level knowledge here.

Q: Did you have any prior experience in Robotics?

Not a ton. My Capstone project in university involved autonomizing a simple, palm-sized drone. That was really my first exposure.

Q: What does your team do?

We translate system concepts into reality. We handle all technical aspects of a project from the moment a contract is scoped and signed, to the moment the customer accepts handoff of a stable robot fleet.

The work we do building in system stability empowers customers to focus on developing the rest of their value chain, and to make large-scale production or logistics changes hassle-free.

Q: What does a typical day as a Systems Engineer  look like at Clearpath?

Systems Engineers work with customers to ensure they meet all product requirements before deployment, develop and simulate workflows, manage PLC communication between fleet and factory side infrastructures, design and perform factory and site acceptance tests, and troubleshoot or conduct tests on all manner of other issues along the way (both human and robot).

We spend a lot of time onsite providing commissioning support. For my part, this has been mainly in the South and West coast of the US.

Q: What’s the most satisfying part of your role? 

That moment when you can take your hands off a Fleet and it just… runs. We’ll hammer out a lot of problems in the planning and simulation stages, but the real world always manages to throw you a few curveballs you didn’t anticipate or couldn’t quite reproduce at home. So when a system is no longer something unstable that you have to juggle and tweak and tune to keep moving, it’s a great feeling to be able to come back and share that with all the people that came together to bring it over the finish line.

Q: What do you look forward to when coming to work in the morning?

Getting to work with the team here. Solving complex problems in robotics spans a huge diversity of fields and Clearpath really does bring together the brightest people. Being able to sit and hash out problems with people who are true experts in their fields, and who want you to understand their perspective as well as they do, is super edifying.

Q: What are the must-have skills or knowledge for this role?

You definitely have to have timely, complex decision-making skills. There’s going to be many ways to solve a given problem, and you need to equip yourself to navigate the whole of your solution space; quickly and accurately evaluating the value of the alternatives before you.

There’s kind of a lot to that: seeking out the advice of subject-matter-experts, risk-assessment, some basic programming know-how… It could be terribly daunting if not for all the support, and the wide diversity of talent available to help span issues as they come.

Q: What differentiates Clearpath from other companies?

We move fast. When there’s a problem, there’s not a lot of fiddling around: we marshall our resources and use the tools at hand to tackle it head-on. It’s a really empowering feeling not to be sitting on problems or stewing.

Q: What advice do you have for someone interested in applying to Clearpath?

Being earnest and candid goes a lot way. At Clearpath, you get a lot further if you start out acknowledging you don’t know the answer to a problem, but that you’re going to open yourself up to creative problem-solving, and commit yourself to getting the work done once you’ve settled on a solution.

Depending on the role, a little ROS-literacy will help immensely.

Q: What Clearpath value resonates with you the most?

Empower others – We are doing a very difficult thing at Clearpath, having to take all of these moving parts and bring them together into one product that works seamlessly as an integrated whole. Lots of vital information could get lost if we weren’t constantly doing the work of communicating that knowledge and empowering each other.

Q: How would you describe the diversity here at Clearpath?

We have a huge diversity of talent here at Clearpath. You might have noticed that’s come up a lot already; but it really is one of the highlights of working here.

Q: Who is your favorite robot? And why?

Help me out and imagine a non-problematic way to make a Deckard-is-definitely-a-robot joke here 😛

Interested?

Want to learn a ton, work with incredible people, and have a massive impact? Good news, we’re hiring a Systems Engineer

Heading to Macau for ROSCon 2019 or iROS 2019? Swing by our booth to see our latest robot demos!
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