Meet our field engineers: tech translators, autonomous robot charmers & international super stars
By Justin Lehmann, Marketing Coordinator
Take it from us, creating an autonomous aerial robot requires a lot of hard work and collaboration. From our hardware team designing and printing custom parts for proprietary payloads, to the software team perfecting a new flight controller or autonomous mission mode, there are a lot of moving pieces working as one to create a safe and successful robot. However, one of the most important pieces of this puzzle, and one that can sometimes be overlooked in all the work that we do, are our Field Engineers (FEs).What are Field Engineers?
Our FEs are like trained secret agents, except they wear Exyn gear and aren't hiding secrets behind their smile. Due to the cutting edge nature of our work, FEs regularly operate under strict NDAs when on site. Like Leeluu Dallas from The Fifth Element with more clothes and less intergalactic mystery.
At their core, our FEs are primarily focused on building and testing robots in the office, and then traveling on site to train new customers on using the ExynAero in the field. Sounds fairly simple, but their work entails so much more than that.
Exyn's FEs take simulations from our Research & Development team and test them in the real world, while also monitoring the structural integrity of the robot and our custom payloads and reporting to the hardware team. They are the glue that hold these two teams together. When almost all of our R&D work went virtual, they became the literal eyes and ears of our hardware & software upgrades.
And since they have a foot in each camp, FEs need to be quick on their feet, and multifaceted in their expertise -- able to diagnose and fix both engineering and software bugs on the fly.
And that's not all! Once they're done in the office, our FEs travel around the world as ambassadors of our technology. Demonstrating and demystifying our autonomous aerial superiority with a variety of customers curious how aerial 3D mapping could improve their business operations. This means traveling to underground mines, flying to remote mountain tops in Finland, and other far flung locations.
Not all FE adventures take place underground
An all-star FE should be observant, methodical and a little bit reckless / adventurous. While you don't need a masters in software development, you should be familiar with mechatronics and have a technical background enabling you to understand our products at a high level as you'll be our go-to universal translator for our customers. You should be comfortable using Linux, the command line, and know your way around Github. You should be warm and affable, and enjoy meeting new people.
To give you a better sense for what a "day in the life" of an FE is truly like, we asked Vidisha (one of our amazing FEs) to give us as much of a behind-the-scenes look as she could while on location.
Hey Vidisha! I hear you’re "on location" right now, can you give us a sense of where you're at?
V: I can neither confirm nor deny said travel.
Wow, ok maybe there's more to this secret agent thing than I thought. Anyway, how did you get interested in robotics?
V: It was kind of an accident! In college, I was interested in working with neuroprosthetics - essentially tools to replace body parts that are controlled by brain signals. I liked the idea of taking something intangible like brain signals and turning them into movement you can see and feel. I didn’t realize at the time that it’s all tied into robotics!
That's wicked cool. What's a "normal day" for an Exyn Field Engineer like?
V: Us Field Engineers work on so many different projects that it’s hard to pin down a “normal day”. If you’re at Philly HQ, you’ll usually do a combination of flight tests for our Autonomy & Mapping team, pre-shipping flights on customer deliveries, and a few meetings to tell everyone what you learned from being out in the field.
Joe & Ben getting ready to ship some autonomous robots
If you’re in the field, it’s anybody’s game! I can guarantee you’ll be spending several hours underground flying drones in environments you'd never think to find yourself in.
What's the coolest moment you've had as an FE so far?
V: I never imagined that I’d get to work with anything as cool as our autonomous drones, so every day is pretty cool. Cheesiness aside though, here in [redacted] we’re demonstrating the ExynAero and Pak for [redacted]. It’s over 600 years old and still producing! The silver is so easy to see that it gets picked up by the LiDAR in our scans. At one point, I picked up a rock just lying on the ground and it left my hand covered in literal silver dust. I never expected to see something like that in my whole life and it’s only possibly because I get to travel to far flung locations with Exyn robots.
Needless to say, FE camera rolls are filled with beautiful vistas
What's the most challenging moment so far?
V: Customs officers don’t like mysterious black cases of electronics so it’s always a huge pain getting robots in and out of different countries. That being said, it’s a great opportunity to practice any foreign language skills you might have.
What's it like to be a member of the FE team?
V: The FE team is what has gotten me through quarantine with a level head! The common vein that connects us is a love for adventure and doing things that are off the beaten path. The other FEs have kept me motivated, excited and laughing-til-I-cry throughout this tough year. 😂 It’s always challenging when something goes not-quite-as-planned in the field, so it's great to have a team that knows what you're going through and always has your back.
Thanks for taking the time, Vidisha!
We're currently accepting applications for new FE positions, so if you want to be a superhero like Vidisha, you can apply here.