From university in Plymouth to conference calls with Canada, how Mechanical Engineer Matt Sharman found his feet at Oxbotica and is now developing the autonomous vehicle software of tomorrow, with remote working helping to keep his team on the go 24 hours a day.
Read more about Matt’s role in the company, how it’s changed his perception of the world and why Oxbotica is the perfect place for any young graduate in the early stages of their career.
When did you join Oxbotica and what were you doing before then?
I joined Oxbotica around two years ago now. Before that, I completed an MEng mechanical engineering degree at Plymouth University with a year in industry. After university I worked for a small start-up and it was there that I found a passion for wanting to work with companies who were helping to transform industries. This is what pushed me to pursue a career in autonomous vehicle technology. For me, it was less about the company, and more about being a part of the solution to some of the world’s most challenging problems.
What made you want to join Oxbotica?
Working for a small consultancy after university made me realise how much I enjoyed the flexibility and pace of start-ups. Every day was a new challenge and I loved the idea of working somewhere that would push me, but that equally had a lot of scope for growth. Oxbotica ticked all the boxes – it was relatively new, was in the perfect industry and, importantly, had a close-knit team.
What team do you currently work in and what do they do?
I joined as part of the 2018 Graduate intake. As part of the programme we were tasked with a group project – during which I was able to work across a few different teams and really get to grips with the inner workings of the company. Upon finishing the Graduate programme, I joined the Object Tracking and Prediction team – we take inputs from various sources (LiDAR, RADAR, cameras) and translate them into information that enables the vehicles to know what the world looks like both now, as well as in the short-term future.
How do you work as a team?
My team is split across the UK and Canada, which works surprisingly well thanks to Oxbotica’s supportive approach to flexible and remote working. I guess now more than ever, it’s hugely important that we are able to bring people together from all over the world in such an efficient way. Our close communication allows us to keep projects rolling pretty much around the clock, which is brilliant. It keeps the wheels turning on the bigger projects and ensures everyone is involved and contributing.
"I loved the idea of working somewhere that would push me, but that equally had a lot of scope for growth. Oxbotica ticked all the boxes – it was relatively new, was in the perfect industry and, importantly, had a close-knit team.”
What is the most rewarding part of your current role?
What I’ve found from working in the industry is that it changes your outlook on the world. You look at driving differently. Whereas before, I’d walk alongside a road and be oblivious to how busy an environment our roads are, now I think – how do we know what that vehicle is going to do next, when will they turn, have they spotted me yet?
You think of problems you’d never have thought of before. You constantly observe the world and I find it fascinating. It’s a new industry and it’s great to be involved as a young engineer – no one has come across these problems or ways of working before – it’s completely fresh. Your ideas are valued regardless of whether you’re a junior or an engineer with 20 years’ worth of experience.
Start-ups challenge the status quo every day and that’s what is super exciting about working somewhere like Oxbotica.
“It’s a new industry and it’s great to be involved as a young engineer – no one has come across these problems or ways of working before – it’s completely fresh. Your ideas are valued regardless of whether you’re a junior or an engineer with 20 years’ worth of experience.”
How do you see your current role developing at Oxbotica?
Never in my life did I think I was going to be a software engineer – but here we are, and it’s only been a year since I finished the Graduate Programme! What I love about the autonomous vehicle (AV) industry is how fast moving it is, and my current role sort of sums that up – moving around in different teams and adapting to the pace.
I can’t wait to see what I’ll be doing next year and the year after that, as I expand my knowledge of the industry. With my foot in the door at Oxbotica I’m looking to continue building my knowledge and hope to get involved with as many projects as possible.
Any last words to an aspiring grad wanting to enter the industry?
Honestly, it was a no-brainer for me. Oxbotica is one of the most exciting companies in the country with some of the brightest minds in the industry. To come in as a grad and be able to absorb that knowledge has given me a huge boost – learning and solving complex problems with a really supportive team around me. Oxbotica has enabled me to develop my skills and allowed me the freedom to work how I want in order for me to give the best I can. It’s an exciting time to be working in the AV industry, and it’s only going to get better!
“What I found was that working in the industry – changes your views on the world. You look at driving differently.”