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Software Engineer - Vehicle Command & Control

Software Engineering | Alameda, CA | Full Time

Job Description

About Saildrone

Saildrone designs and manufactures wind and solar powered autonomous surface vehicles called Saildrones, which make cost-effective ocean data collection possible at scale. We are working with governments, civic agencies, foundations, universities and private companies around the globe to drive better information about our oceans and seas - be it in mapping out the ocean floor, collecting new CO2 data in hard-to-reach areas, counting bio-mass to establish fishing quotas, or detecting and stopping illegal fishing and drug trafficking. We believe that better inputs in planetary models in turn yield better outputs and that the new insights gained in weather forecasting, carbon cycling, global fishing and climate change will have tremendous impact on humanity. We are based in Alameda, CA and are backed by Social Capital, The Capricorn Investment Group, Lux Capital, Horizons Venture and The Schmidt Family Foundation

The Role

As a member of the Vehicle Command & Controls team, you will be responsible for designing and implementing software that runs on board our Saildrones - to communicate over satellite comms, navigate the ocean as instructed by remote pilots, detect and avoid obstacles on the horizon, and control low level actuators that actually make this all possible. You’ll also work closely with sensor payloads on board the vehicle - radar and camera systems, oceanographic and bathymetry sensor suites, etc.

Required Skills

  • Strong C++ skills - the ability to design and implement reliable, maintainable, and testable object-oriented code. 
  • Comfortable enough with python to maintain and expand scripts and tooling in that language. 
  • A background in robotics, autonomous vehicles, or vehicle controls. 
  • Strong interpersonal skills - someone who pairs well with others, and is eager to help guide the technical direction of our software stack, and diligently review other’s code and designs.

Desired Skills

  • Experience implementing gRPC. 
  • Familiarity with the Bazel build system. 
  • Experience with low-level CAN protocols, CANopen, J1939, NMEA2K. 
  • Knowledge of sailing mechanics 
  • A background in general control systems - navigation and guidance, robotic controls all excellent examples.


This position is located 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
  • Active sailing classes: become a certified skipper on boats up to 35ft!  (once COVID safety allows)
  • Short and relaxing ferry ride from the Ferry Building for SF residents
  • Enhanced paternity / maternity programs
  • Competitive benefits including excellent medical, life insurance, 401k plan

This is an exciting opportunity with a fast-growing post series-B startup 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.

You can read the latest about us:

Saildrone Surveyor Launch (Jan 2021)

Washington Post: Four autonomous vessels sailed the Arctic to more precisely map its seafloor(Oct 2020)

USNI: Coast Guard Begins At-Sea Testing of Unmanned Surface Vehicles to Tackle Illegal Fishing, Crime (Oct 2020)

Forbes: Five Ways Saildrone’s ‘Satellites Of The Seas’ Could Transform Mauritius Oil Spill Response (Sept 2020)

Maritime Executive: Due to COVID-19, NOAA Uses Drones Instead of Ships for Fishery Survey (June 2020) 

Or watch some of our videos: Bloomberg:  The Robots Roaming the High Seas

Saildrone is an equal opportunity workplace dedicated to pursuing and hiring a diverse workforce.

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.