OTTO™ Motors, a division of Clearpath™ Inc., designs, manufactures and operates self-driving vehicles to automate material movement inside busy factories and warehouses. Using self-driving technology much like the Google Car, the easy-to-use OTTO vehicles move inventory in a safe and flexible manner throughout the indoor supply chain. Customers include Fortune 100 brands like General Electric, John Deere, and Toyota. 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!

What drew you to OTTO Motors? 

My interest in the robots built by Clearpath Robotics is how I have discovered OTTO Motors. OTTO Motors is focused on developing products capable of helping people with dangerous jobs in industrial and manufacturing facilities, which definitely makes for a safer work environment. And that is an important problem that I want to help solve.

What differentiates OTTO Motors from other companies?

In my view it is the full range of products, robots and Fleet Manager, that OTTO Motors has developed for automating material handling. With a big emphasis on safety. I feel a connection with these products. Just recently, an acquaintance of mine who has started in a new role, sent me a message saying “We got those robots from OTTO Motors on the factory floor! They all had different attachments on them!”

What does your team do?

I am a member of the Fleet Core team, within the Fleet Software Group. The Fleet Core team is responsible for development, maintenance, and deployment of the server-side software for the enterprise application called Fleet Manager. Our team develops "the engine" that tells the robots what to do, but not how to do it. The team develops and implements concepts that allow OTTO Motors customers to implement pretty powerful material handling workflows by efficiently utilizing a fleet of different robots. This is achieved through careful planning of the jobs assigned to the robots, managing facility maps, and maintaining key performance indicators. We provide flexible APIs that allow customers to integrate with this engine using REST and WebSockets. The team is also responsible for developing the deployment and configuration tools for the software that we create.

What does a typical day as a Senior Software Developer look like at OTTO Motors?

Overall the day is focused on making sure that critical issues are resolved quickly, keeping the individual commitments for the latest release on schedule, and avoiding the accumulation of technical debt as much as possible. For me the day starts by checking for any messages that may need my input, arranging my to-do list into daily and weekly tasks, participating at standup meetings, where the team members talk about their progress and anything that may be blocking their work. After that it is usually working on submitting implementation changes for a review, participating in code reviews for the other developers' changes, collaborating with cross-functional teams. Depending on the type of changes, some require deploying to dedicated test systems that provide adequate test coverage.

What’s the most satisfying part of your role?

There is always something new to learn as a software developer. The most satisfying part is when I get to learn about the latest improvements to the programming language which we use, and try it out in our software. It is very exciting if the latest changes work on the first try, and even boost the performance of the application. Because this translates into valuable software for OTTO Motors customers. Even more satisfying is when the customers can't wait to upgrade to the latest version of Fleet Manager in order to try out the new changes because they see great value in it.

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

I look forward to completing one task during that morning. Whether it is closing one ticket, or writing one unit test, or having a conversation with other developer(s) about one release-affecting issue (which hopefully leads to a solution later).

How did you get into Software Development?

Back in 2003-2004, I was taking a high-school class on programming - it was actually the very first class I walked into. The capstone project was to develop a text-based game of Tic-tac-toe in Java, that could be played either between two people or between a computer and a single player. I remember being consumed by thinking about how to implement it. Some nights I would fall asleep thinking about what I wanted to try the next morning. Good grades alone can't motivate me like this. After completing this project, I played a match with our teacher, and after that he invited me to program robots for the high-schools F.I.R.S.T. robotics team. This is how it started. Through the years I had an opportunity to work as a Co-op with hardware and software, and it is developing software that still fuels my motivation.

Did you have any prior experience in Robotics?

During my senior year in university, I took a technical elective course called "Computer Control in Robotics". The most interesting part was one big project that was broken into the lab sessions. The goal was to develop a software algorithm for a robotic arm that would use image processing to sort objects of various geometric shapes by placing them on the corresponding places on the work surface. This was the first time I have started learning some of the more advanced concepts in robotics. My graduate research project was about developing a mesh radio network for low-power and long-range that could be deployed with multiple search and rescue robots.

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

Must-have skills and knowledge would probably include problem-solving, paying attention to details, being comfortable with programming in 1 or 2 popular languages, developing unit and integration tests, using version control systems, being familiar with concepts like algorithms, data structures, and basic networking. Being good at math would be helpful, but I wouldn't say a must-have. For example, for my specific area of responsibility, which is the Fleet Manager's public API, knowing the basics of networking, security, data structures, how to use libraries, and frameworks is important.

What advice do you have for someone interested in applying to OTTO Motors?

At OTTO Motors strong work-life balance is encouraged. The company very much recognizes the value and effort put in by its people. The workload can get very busy at times but it won’t go unnoticed, and the necessary support will be there. If interested in applying to OTTO Motors, don’t wait, apply! 

Who is your favorite robot? And why?

GLaDOS. This is a robot system from a favorite game of mine. And I like how its personality has been designed in that game. I would like for something like this to be developed one day.


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