But seriously, with rapid advances in AI and robotics, we’re going to see more people collaborating with machines in the workplace. What does this look like? And how can you land a job doing just that?
We asked five people who work with autonomous systems every day to give us the scoop.
Spacecraft Guru: Mykal Lefevre
Tell me about your role.
I design commands and sequences that tell the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft how to execute its mission—a rendezvous with a near-Earth asteroid to survey its surface, collect a sample and bring it back to Earth.
I work in an extremely dynamic environment as I’m constantly looking for ways to get the most out of every mission and gather data that may change what we know about our universe.
What’s the coolest autonomous system on OSIRIS-REx?
Natural feature tracking. Essentially, it’s a package of software that can identify landmarks on Bennu, such as craters or boulders, and determine if the spacecraft is on the right trajectory. If it’s not on course, it’ll calculate the maneuvers OSIRIS-REx must make to descend into a 25-meter ellipse around Bennu.
What advice do you have for someone who wants a job like yours?
Persistence. I put a lot of time and effort into looking and applying for jobs in mission operations. It paid off when I landed my first role with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter—which is a joy to fly.
Flight Whiz: Daniel Kidd
Give me your elevator speech.
I help integrate autonomous technologies into aircraft, such as the F-16 fighter jet, ultimately, helping pilots fly farther, operate longer and succeed in harsh or dangerous environments.
What’s your day-to-day like?
Every day is completely different. The nature of my work is fast paced, so I’m working multiple projects simultaneously.
Your new coworker is a robot. Now what?
My work here is done! Just kidding. I’d program it to deliver me fresh coffee.
Autonomy Master: Keith Lynn
What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on so far?
That’s a difficult question. Everything about autonomy is fascinating. I spend a lot of time envisioning how autonomous systems will interact with humans—how they’ll extend human reach, mentally and physically. It makes you think about the differences between how human and machines process information and communicate effectively.
What’s your favorite part about working at Lockheed Martin?
Lockheed Martin is similar to a city in that there are so many things going on at any given time.
I don’t know where else I could work on autonomous submersibles one year and Mars exploration the next. There’s really never a dull day. Not to mention, the problems we work on have far-reaching implications on the world.
Cognitive Mastermind: Matthias Ziegler
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working with a 15-person team to gather data from 100 employees who are serving as test participants in a study in which they’re wearing biometric sensors while at work. The sensors are measuring the participants and their environments, which will allow us to assess the top factors influencing health and workplace productivity.
The results of this study will help us determine how to monitor for specific factors that can enhance workplace performance and comfort for individuals.
Is there anything you did in the job application process that helped you land your job?
I clearly conveyed how my background translated to Lockheed Martin's research and technology focus.
AI Jedi: Matt Tarascio
What’s your day-to-day like?
My team is focused on AI, particularly looking at how we can disrupt from within Lockheed Martin to generate new ideas and stay ahead of the market within the aerospace and defense industry.
What advice would you have for someone who wants a job like yours?
The three most important things are 1) be passionate about what you’re doing, 2) don’t let barriers stand in your way and 3) if you strongly believe in an idea, don’t wait for someone to tell you to do it.
Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Collaborative Missions
Want to read more about humans working with machines? Download our technical paper for an in-depth look into our testing of underwater unmanned vehicle (UUV) collaboration.