Interview with Zachary Kroeze

1.       A quick introduction of yourself

I am Zachary Kroeze, a new Postdoctoral fellow for aUToronto team. My background is in Electrical Engineering, specifically in control systems. My PhD was focused in the area of control theory with complex specifications. It covers the study of control theory when there are safety constraints on the system. For example, how to control a vehicle to follow a specified trajectory while avoiding collisions with obstacles and rejecting wind disturbances. I will be mainly helping select and implement different algorithms for the Autonomy team of aUToronto.

2.       What background do you have in Autonomy?

While the study of autonomous vehicles is a new field for me, the theoretical background that I have developed through doing my PhD gives me the ability to tackle complex problems. Autonomous driving technologies are emerging and extremely important. As much as I enjoyed having a very theoretical PhD, one thing that I’ve noticed is that I want real world applications. Being able to apply the latest research in autonomous vehicles, and accomplish something that can influence society at large is important to me.  Whether that is an improvement in passenger safety, or increasing commuter’s quality of life. Self-driving technology has the ability to solve these problems.

3.       What do you think about the University of Toronto’s or aUToronto’s role in creating a better future?

Both aUToronto and the University of Toronto have the ability to impact the future of autonomous driving. We have top researchers in both engineering and computer science. I believe that a large part of the technology surrounding autonomous driving has been driven by academics. Toronto has become a hub for machine learning, which is an integral part of our project. This can be seen by companies such as Google Brain and Uber ATG which have come to Toronto and are partnering which researchers from the University of Toronto.  Being at source of all of this research, we are definitely going to have an impact. This isn’t just a three-year competition, the AutoDrive challenge will motivate us to develop technology which will be used for years to come.

4.       What is your first task in the team?

The team has already been very active, so my first step is to begin reviewing all of the literature and work that the team has already accomplished. Approaching the project with a fresh set of eyes, I have the ability to re-evaluate some of the decisions that the team has made and propose suggestions for areas of improvement.

I am very excited and honoured to be a part of this new team. I look forward to bringing a lot of the excitement to the space of autonomous driving. I am confident aUToronto will do very well in the competition.