Electrical Engineering, Hungary, India, Powertrain, Shannon, Software, Technology

The inaugural Jaguar Land Rover GDD Hackathon

True to its name, it was indeed a global event with teams joining across all the GDD hubs in Gaydon, Manchester, Portland, Shannon, Hungary and India. The first stage of the competition kicked off with sourcing problem statements from all Jaguar Land Rover colleagues in May, and finally six problem statements were announced in June across the three domains – Electrical engineering, Power Electronics and Mechatronics.

Putting ourselves forward for the challenge

My teammates, Abhijith N Balan and Ronit Hire Jaisingh, and I are Software Engineers at Jaguar Land Rover India. We heard about the hackathon through word of mouth and decided to register for it. It would be our first hackathon since graduating from college two years ago and we were excited to get this chance to showcase our skills. With about a week to go for the registration deadline, we started having meetings to go through each problem statement in detail and choose the one that aligns with our vision the most. We found the HMI Navigation Testing problem statement intriguing and implementable in the near future in our cars. This was ideal since our prime goal was to help improve the customer experience we offer by solving real world technical problems. We also reckoned that it might have the most teams competing (which turned out to be correct), which was perfect since we were up for a challenge.

One of our last meetings leading up to the hackathon was to decide our team’s name for registration, which ran for over an hour (not our proudest moment) before we ended up finalizing “Chaotic Coyotes” (combined with our GitLab GraphRunner, a nod to the beloved childhood cartoon, the Road Runner). At the end of the meeting, we joked that this might be the longest meeting we have for the entire duration of the hackathon. If only we knew how wrong we were going to be!

The hackathon kicked off on 1st July at 12 noon BST

We realized that the deadline for the competition was the next day midnight for the UK, which was 4:30 am on a Saturday for us, far from ideal. At the start we felt our chances to complete in time looked bleak due to this fact. Nevertheless, we decided upon one thing – whenever one of us is working, he will join the teams meeting so that the others know about it. This probably turned out to be a game changer for us as over the next 36 hours we ended up with more than 25 hours of meetings! For our problem statement, we had to develop an algorithm that was capable of automating the HMI Validation of the car infotainment screen.

Given the home screen our algorithm had to ensure that we clicked on all buttons and visited all the available screens so that they can be tested, with two key factors deciding the quality of the solution – the efficiency and randomness. The algorithm needed to be efficient enough to not keep on repeatedly testing the same screens or buttons, and yet random enough to mimic the typical user’s behaviour where they might choose to visit certain screens more often than others. Balancing this trade-off would be crucial to developing an acceptable solution. I have my teammates to thank for coming up with ingenious approaches and a few clever workarounds which we stitched together and incorporated into one satisfactory solution.

The 36 hours of the hackathon for us were replete with all the clichés of a typical coding hackathon during our college days – sacrificing all sleep, forgetting meals sometimes, discovering a blunder less than an hour from the deadline and scrambling to correct it! Finally, at exactly 4:30 am on Saturday we submitted our solution and heaved a sigh of relief.

The presentation

After catching up on all the lost sleep over the weekend, we prepared for the next stage of the competition – the presentation. The judges had a lot of questions for us which we answered confidently and a few valuable inputs too which could add to our algorithm. We felt good about our chances after the presentation, but were mindful of the other teams too who undoubtedly would have brilliant solutions of their own. Before the results were declared we even got the chance to view the work done by all the other teams, and we found some strong contenders among those with quite efficient approaches.

Winning!

We were delighted to learn that our team was announced the winner, and excited when we were told about what lied ahead. Our implementation had impressed the judges and post the hackathon we have been working on bettering it and pitching to the senior management. We received quite positive feedback for our solution from the Chief Engineer (Software Validation & Integration) at Jaguar Land Rover and his team.

Recently, we also pitched our solution to the Elec & Systems Engineering Director who reviewed all the winning entries from the hackathon. In the next few weeks, we will be working on integrating our algorithm with the current testing strategy by the validation team for a PoC. All in all, it was an exhilarating experience for us. It was a commendable effort by the organizing committee to set this up from scratch and we hope to see our project come to fruition in our cars soon!

Siddharth Brahmbhatt, Software Engineer – ADAS

Home Page, People, Shannon, Software, Technology

The journey we are on is evolving and engineers will constantly learn with us.

‘As we strive to be the Software Centre of Excellence this is a really exciting time to join us. Working in exciting areas such as Embedded Software, Data Science, AI, Machine Learning, Cyber-Security, Dev Ops, Validation, etc. developing through an Agile operating model – it really is all about Software in Shannon. We are constantly developing key products evolving the architecture of our vehicles and maximising the use of data – by adding new features and customer experiences. ADAS is another huge area of focus for us – and the software we develop together with our partners, binds together everything we are creating.

Our R & D workshop is where the exciting vehicle integration happens. We develop software that we embed into our vehicles and test – it’s such a strong proposition for our engineers to be able to experience this. Our leading-edge technology is fundamentally changing the industry in the coolest way and being able to work on our latest vehicles is vitally important us– everyone here feels a sense of ownership and are aware of where we are taking our brand.

The journey we are on is changing and evolving and engineers will constantly learn with us. Our focus is on technology and being a premium brand. A complete revolution of the industry is happening – and using the latest and greatest tech we are challenging our teams to create new features, do something different and innovate.’

This is your opportunity to play your part and #ReimagineYourFuture. To find out more visit ‘Find a job’ on our careersite.

Engineering, Home Page, People, Software, Technology

Working here gives everyone the chance to learn differently and develop a variety of tech skills.

‘Having now been with the company for over 2 ½ years – I’ve worked on infotainment, Software Over The Air, Vehicle Data Platform and many other different projects. My role is to help our software teams to push the technical direction for the solutions of some of our projects – so I take on the meetings involved in these projects and help mentor and advise our developers so that they can spend their time doing what they do best.

I started here as a Software Engineer and, at the time, didn’t envisage the role I am in now – but as the Manchester Hub grows, possibilities and roles emerge – so this has been a fantastic opportunity for me.

I have a real interest in cars and it’s a really rewarding feeling knowing that what we produce is being seen across the country and the world. There’s an immense pride in seeing something you’ve worked on physically being used by our customers.

I’ve found a real flexibility in the culture here. We have the freedom to move across programmes and projects. Working here gives everyone the chance to learn differently and develop a variety of tech skills. I know that I won’t be working on one project constantly and we get the chance to switch technologies and discover the next/new tech.

Although we are working from home a lot now – we get together as teams regularly. It’s those impromptu chats in the office that can sometimes be invaluable on a project.

My advice to someone looking to work here. Be open to learning new stuff, have the drive to learn and don’t be afraid of taking your skills to the next level. Your input can be invaluable in moving both our products and your career forward.’

There are some amazing opportunities to join us. Search ‘Find a Job’ on our careersite to find out more.

Electrified, Home Page, People, Responsible Business, Technology

Delivering tangible and accessible solutions to a global customer base is extremely rewarding.

‘I’ve been extremely fortunate over the past 17½ years here to have experienced a wide variety of roles and responsibilities – this is one of the benefits of working in a large and diverse organisation as it affords you opportunities to learn a broad spectrum of skills which all shape you and your career.  We may not always know where our strengths lie until we are challenged in new ways – which means your career path can take unexpected turns as you, the business and the global environment evolve.  However, I have felt in control and supported in all my key career decisions to date through open discussions with line managers, mentors and colleagues.’

Certainly, going back to the start of my career I could never have foreseen where I am now – leading the Power Electronics team – responsible for traction inverters, control SW and DCDC converters on all our electrified vehicles.  As electrification is now at the heart of all our products going forwards, the team is growing, skills and experience to deliver world class products and support the migration to an electrified future.  Having started out visualising fuel injector spray patterns at Ford it’s a huge leap in a relatively short period of time!

As part of the electrified propulsion system team, we have a significant part to play in positively impacting society and the environment.  One of the main concerns as people migrate to electric propulsion is “range anxiety” – not having enough energy to complete a journey.  Our part in this is to produce the most efficient power conversion systems available so that as much of the stored battery energy is converted to forward propulsion as possible and we make our vehicles go even further on a single charge.  This includes adaptive software strategies, the latest power electronics technologies, and the most efficient packaging solutions to produce the optimum drive system.

First and foremost, work must excite you – and delivering tangible and accessible solutions to a global customer base is extremely rewarding.  The challenges we face are always changing so you are always learning – not just about the subjects you are working on, but also with the approaches taken to resolve the issues and deliver the solutions.  Above all else though, it’s working with new talent coming into the department/company and seeing them grow and develop.  While I still get a feeling of immense pride seeing our products driving around – especially the ones I’ve played a key part in delivering – what really matters is helping to shape the careers of those around me and seeing them progress in the company.’

To find out more about the opportunities in Electrification go to Find a Job on our careersite.

Engineering, Home Page, People, Software, Technology

There is an amazing chemistry in the team here. Whatever level you are at – everyone has their say.

‘When I joined the team here it felt like I was joining an exciting start up within the tech industry and my journey so far has not disappointed. The company gives you real autonomy to come up with your own ideas. We have a Customer First Approach – we want to do what’s right for them so we get the opportunity to share ideas and make technical decisions that will move the business forward and build quality software for our customers. Its agile transformation in action.

We have a huge array of talent in the team, and this allows us to tap into everyone’s experience, explore ideas and bring them to life.

Lockdown hasn’t had any impact on our collaboration and work. We have all had daily contact and the business encourages Pair Programming so that no one is working in silo. Being relatively new and joining in the middle of the pandemic, this has really helped me. With the support of colleagues, I was able to familiarise myself with systems immediately and was writing code on my second day.

Everyone in the company made me feel really welcome, having conversations with our chief engineer, head of software development and my line manager within my first week enabled me to fully understand the vision of Jaguar Land Rover Manchester and allowed me to provide ideas and support to help achieve this and raise any queries or concerns I had. This is an ongoing process which happens regularly, the senior leaders are extremely supportive and are always looking at better ways of working – so ideas for improvement are listened to and taken on board.

There is an amazing chemistry in the team here. Whatever level you are at – everyone has their say.’