Interview with Adam El-Masri

1. Introduce Yourself! 

My name is Adam El-Masri, and I am the co-lead of aUToronto’s Simulation & Experimentation (S&E) team. I joined aUToronto in the beginning. The role of the S&E team is to essentially validate all autonomy components prior to ever deploying them onto the vehicle. We’re always looking for issues with respect to performance and safety. About myself, I have been working as a software engineer for almost 4 years now in industry. In my spare time, I am also a teaching assistant at University of Toronto, and I run my own non-for-profit organization in social innovation. I also co-lead the Youth Design and Technology Advocacy committee at City of Toronto. The purpose of this committee is to enhance dedicated youth spaces in Toronto through youth civic engagement.

2. Why did you join aUToronto?

I joined aUToronto because I wanted to have the opportunity to apply my skill set and experience as a software engineer in the field of autonomous driving which has traditionally been a robotics or engineering domain. I think of a self-driving car as perfect intersection of every cutting-edge technology or concept that I ever worked with or wanted to work with. Simulation systems, continuous integration, machine learning, robotics and computer vision all being applied to one of the most common important aspect of our lives: transportation. Since human beings invented the wheel, we’ve always been looking for more efficient ways to move around and transport things. Autonomous driving is just the next state in that search.

3. What is your goal for the Simulation and Experimentation team in 2018?

The goal is to get to a place where the simulation aspect of developing autonomous systems is totally automated. We want to take this simulation environment that we build, and automate everything around it, so that every line of code that is written for aUToronto is validated against a vehicle in simulation with all the latest autonomy components. Beyond that, an ideal place to be is having the capability to re-create and replay real-world situations we encounter while testing the car by simply taking runtime data and plugging it into the simulation environment. That would be especially useful when trying to identify problems if things go wrong.

4. What inspires you in daily life? What is your passion?

I think my greatest passion is helping people. Whether it is through the committee that I am involved in with the City of Toronto, or being a teaching assistant and being able to work with students one-on-one, or the non-for-profit I am running, I have always been inspired by helping people. I think that translates quite a bit into aUToronto, because at the end of the day, our main job is to make sure that everything we do to develop an autonomous vehicle is done with safer driving as the end result.

5. Tell us one cool fact about your non self-driving car related hobbies

Well I own a lot of floral shirts. I am also definitely a bit of a coffee snob, so I’ve been to lots of coffee shops in Toronto, and am constantly spending my spare time exploring new ones.