Lyft partners with Udacity to hire self-driving car engineers

Lyft is teaming up with Udacity to find talent for its Level 5 autonomous-driving engineering team. The partnership entails a challenge designed to identify the best candidates in Udacity’s self-driving car engineer nanodegree program.

Called the Lyft Perception Challenge, the idea is to test problem-solving skills around perception for autonomous vehicles. The competition, which runs for a full month from today until June 1, asks engineers to develop perception algorithms that can recognize cars in simulated urban environments no matter what the day or weather condition.

“Lyft recognizes that conventional recruiting strategies no longer suffice. What is needed is a future-facing hiring model as transformative as the field they’re hiring for,” Lyft wrote in a blog post. “To that end, Lyft is partnering with Udacity on a new approach to identifying, attracting, and hiring top candidates—engineers that possess the ideal combination of problem-solving ability, specialized skills, hand-on experience, and systems thinking.”

As part of the challenge, the algorithms must be able to identify cars in images on a “pixel by pixel” basis. These simulated urban environments will be from CARLA, an open-source simulator for autonomous vehicle testing developed by Intel Labs and the Computer Vision Center.

Lyft and Udacity will score engineers based on the same criteria that compares their results to what’s actually there. The top 25 best engineers will have an opportunity to interview at Lyft.

Lyft’s self-driving car efforts are on the newer side, having just launched an autonomous-driving division last July. But it’s already made a number of moves to propel its technology. In March, Lyft teamed up with auto supplier Magna to build out a self-driving car platform.

For the uninitiated, Udacity has offered a self-driving car nanodegree program since 2016. Its partners at the time included Didi, Otto, Nvidia and Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America.

Lyft first partnered with Udacity last September to provide 400 scholarships to an introductory self-driving car program. The company has also already hired “a number” of engineers who have gone through Udacity’s nanodegree program.