Cruise Engineers Balance Safety With Experimentation In The Pursuit of Autonomous Vehicles

On the surface, the concept of a self-driving car seems deceptively simple. But after a decade of splashy announcements and enormous investments from Silicon Valley’s most influential organizations, few people understand the dichotomy between the idea and its execution better than Mohamed Elshenawy. As senior vice president of engineering teams at autonomous vehicle company Cruise, he spends his working life neck-deep in the challenges that come from building a self-driving car…

While some self-driving contenders have opted to test their technology on quieter roads in the hopes of solving “easier” driving conditions before venturing into complex urban driving, Cruise has jumped straight into the deep end — in this case, the hilly streets of its hometown. The theory goes that once you’ve solved city driving — with its construction sites, pedestrians, cyclists and haphazard traffic — it will be easier to scale out and expand the service elsewhere.

To support its engineering work, Cruise has organized its teams around the concept of psychological safety.