Plus Interns Drive Real-World Impact
The summer 2023 cohort is working hard, having fun and leaving their mark on the autonomous vehicle industry
Luisa, a native of Bremen, Germany, knew she wanted to intern in Silicon Valley, the global center of technology innovation. Plus itself was a good fit for her values and background: Her father was a truck driver, and she was excited about working for an autonomous driving technology company that is making commercial and passenger vehicles safer, more efficient and more sustainable.
“It aligned perfectly with what I wanted for our planet’s future,” Luisa said.
Luisa is one of eleven summer interns currently working on projects across different teams at Plus: perception, motion planning, controls, systems, data, marketing, and operations. Ten are working out of the Santa Clara office and one in Munich.
In celebration of National Intern Day, the cohort talked about their projects and why their Plus internship has been so impactful.
Plus culture: Diverse, team-oriented and fun
This year marks the first in-person internship experience for many Plus interns. In addition to building meaningful projects for each intern to work on, Plus promotes mentorship opportunities, the cohort said, and encourages interns to engage with and learn from managers and each other.
“My favorite aspect of Plus culture is the collaboration,” said Xingyu, a controls intern. “You can collaborate within your team and with other team members seamlessly. There’s no inter-team communication barrier or delay, so it makes your R&D very smooth.”
Derek, a systems intern, said Plus is a diverse company, which yielded plenty of interesting discussions as well as more innovative problem-solving.
“We have teammates from all over the world, and whenever we talk with one another, we bring different cultural styles, perspectives, and ideas.”
Group recreational activities such as ping pong tournaments and weekend hikes help forge bonds between interns and team members, said Austin, a perception intern. “The culture here is a perfect combination of productivity and fun.”
Taking ownership and making a real-world impact
The opportunity to work independently and apply academic knowledge to real-world autonomous driving projects is a huge benefit of interning at Plus.
Jaidev, an intern on the perception team, conducted computer vision research in the self-driving space while in school. At Plus he not only is applying those learnings to real-world autonomous driving projects – he is also expected to lead much of the work himself.
“Starting from my first day at Plus, I knew that my mentor was always available to help but I felt a sense of freedom and ownership in my computer vision projects,” Jaidev said. “This helped build my confidence and increased my productivity.”
Equally important, the projects interns are working on are having a tangible impact on the company’s core autonomous driving software.
Harsh is another intern on the perception team. At Plus, he is generating occupancy grids from multi-view images to identify obstacles and provide information on the future path planning of the vehicle. “I’m excited about the project because it allows me to work on new techniques and technologies that will be integrated into the overall system.”
The demo ride: Technology innovation in action
A highlight of the summer internship is taking a demo ride on a Plus autonomous vehicle. That experience reinforces the company’s role as a leading innovator in the self-driving industry, Xingyu said. “Interning here is a unique opportunity.”
Yulun, a motion planning intern, said he was impressed by how seamlessly the technology worked during the demo. “The system as a whole is very robust and resists all kinds of false positive cases. It’s a very impressive commercial product.”
Lessons learned: Engage and remain confident
Taking the initiative and seeking out Plus team members, whether they are on your team or not, is one of the best ways to get the most out of a Plus internship, the summer cohort said.
That means everything from attending weekly engineering presentations, to engaging with operational experts and drivers who have their own views on engineering, marketing and operational topics.
Yinjia, an intern on the data team, finds his team’s weekly presentations — in which a different presenter speaks each Thursday on an engineering topic of their choice — informative and conducive to learning about the different tasks people on his team are working on.
Maintaining confidence while working with some of the best minds in the industry is another key to a successful Plus internship. Interns here are treated like full-fledged team members, Luisa observed.
“It’s not: ‘Oh, I’m only an intern.’ We’re made to feel we’re capable of achieving great things.”