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Firmware Engineer

Software Engineering | Alameda, CA | Full Time

Job Description

About Us

At Saildrone, we sustainably explore, map, and monitor the oceans to understand, preserve, and protect our world. Saildrone provides real-time access to critical data from any ocean on earth, 24/7/365, and uses proprietary software applications to transform that data into actionable insights and intelligence. Saildrone’s fleet of uncrewed surface vehicles (USVs), powered by renewable wind and solar power, have a minimal carbon footprint and operate 24/7/365, without the need for a crewed support vehicle. We work with governments, civil agencies, foundations, universities, and private companies around the globe to drive better information about our oceans and seas—from sailing drones into the eye of a Category 4 hurricane to obtain new scientific storm data, mapping the ocean floor, collecting new CO2 data in hard-to-reach areas, counting biomass to establish fishing quotas, or detecting and stopping illegal fishing and drug trafficking. As a result of our work, we have been included on Fast Company’s annual list of the “World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2022” and earned the 2022 Ocean Awards’ Innovation Award, presented by the Blue Marine Foundation. Saildrone’s hurricane mission was included as one of the New York Times "Top 21 Things that happened (for the first time) in 2021", and Popular Science's "100 Greatest Innovations of 2021".

We are based in Alameda, CA, with offices in Washington DC, St. Petersburg, FL, and Fall River, MA, and operate our missions worldwide. We are backed by top-tier investors in the frontier-tech and sustainability sectors, including Social Capital, Capricorn, Lux Capital, BOND Capital, and Emerson Collective. 

This is an exciting opportunity with a fast-growing team at the cutting-edge intersection of big data services and autonomous hardware. You will be an integral part of a high-performing multi-disciplinary delivering high impact for humanity and future generations.


The Role

We are seeking an embedded software engineer to write processor support and application software for embedded devices. You will add new features to existing hardware and bring up new hardware, working closely with the hardware design engineers. Your customers will primarily be backend software engineers and vehicle operators.

There is an existing codebase of chip support infrastructure that we are planning to deprecate, so this is a good time to join to have a lot of impact on a brand-new distributed system design. Our embedded software is written in C and C++, and it communicates over many types of channels using a wide array of protocols.

This is a fairly hands-on position; you will be expected to handle electronics and its supporting equipment as you do bring-up and integration, as well as leverage basic skills with oscilloscopes and logic analyzers.

What you'll do

  • Receive brand-new hardware and write the firmware to bring it to life.
  • Add new capabilities to and fix bugs impacting existing hardware.
  • Design and develop offboard software infrastructure for deploying and testing hardware.
  • Design and develop onboard software architecture and infrastructure and apply it to multiple instances of hardware.
  • Support, manage, and enhance firmware on various 3rd party devices


Required skills and experience

  • 3+ years of experience in software engineering, ideally with 1+ years in embedded
  • Understanding of how to set up and debug toolchains, how to manage memory and storage in constrained environments, and bare-metal boot sequences
  • Operational skill in C, C++, and Python
  • Knowledge of software processes to produce sustainable and maintainable code
  • Good verbal and written communication skills
  • Hobbyist-level electrical engineering test equipment operational skill
  • BS in engineering (or equivalent experience)

Desired skills and experience

  • Familiar with a variety of serial hardware interfaces (UART, SPI, I2C, etc.)
  • Familiar with a low level RTOS such as FreeRTOS
  • Familiar with CAN protocols (J1939/NMEA 2000/CANOpen)
  • Familiar with network protocols and the TCP/IP stack
  • Experience with device driver or kernel development
  • A basic understanding of schematics and how they relate to firmware implementations

Location: This position is in Alameda, CA. Only candidates with proper permits to work in the United States can be considered.  Our waterfront office offers beautiful views of San Francisco Bay in always sunny Alameda. Even our walls have good karma, our offices mix software development with a hardware production line in the former airplane hangar used to film 'The Matrix'.


  • Medical, dental and vision plans for you and your dependents.
  • Short and relaxing ferry ride from the Ferry Building for SF residents
  • Enhanced Parental Leave Programs
  • Competitive benefits including excellent medical, life insurance, 401k plan


Catch up on the latest news about us:

An Unprecedented View Inside a Hurricane – EOS (May 6, 2022)

Meet the sailing robots trying to solve climate change – The Hill (Mar. 18, 2022)

They Sailed Into a Hurricane, Now these Unmanned Saildrones are Seeking Data on Our Carbon Uptake – CNN (Dec. 9, 2021)

Saildrone Catches a $100M C Breeze to Build More Robo-boats – TechCrunch (Oct. 18, 2021)

With A Sight, Sound And Radar Picture, Saildrone Could Build An AI Database Of Everything In The Ocean – Forbes (Aug. 16, 2021)

Changing Arctic Environment Could Also Change Technologies Needed to Protect It, Experts Say – SeaPower Magazine (Aug. 2, 2021)

Autonomous Research Vehicle Completes Ocean Crossing from San Francisco to Hawaii – Hydro International (July 13, 2021)

Saildrone Featured Videos Playlist


We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status, or disability status.

Individuals who require employer sponsorship to remain employed in the United States now or in the future will not be considered for hire for certain positions.

In accordance with Saildrone’s mandatory employee COVID-19 vaccination policy, please be advised that all employees are required to be vaccinated and boosted to safeguard the health of our employees and their families, our customers and visitors and the community at large.


Any unsolicited resumes/candidate profiles submitted through our website or to personal email accounts of employees of Saildrone are considered property of Saildrone and are not subject to payment of agency fees.