Lindsay Roberts has been with Starship since its inception and is the company’s ninth employee. “It was me, my friend Andy, and an engineer from Estonia. Her first six months were very quiet, averaging about seven words spoken per day.”
Lindsay is from Sydney, Australia and has lived in Estonia for the last ten years. Tallinn is his home, and working for Starship, he says, is like living his dream. I’ve always wanted to work for a company with a real mission, and at Starship I feel we’re getting closer to the future by putting robots on the streets. “
Lindsay is currently in charge of autonomous driving at Starship. He was one of the first to build the world’s leading provider of automated delivery services, and from his small one-room office he grew from 10 people to over 500 employees. I’ve seen the
You were one of Starship’s first employees, how did your paths cross?
My journey in Estonia started when I moved to Skype in 2011. At that time, I had to change almost everything. One job that popped up was his Skype in Stockholm, but during the interview process he was asked if he would consider moving to Estonia instead. I had to Wikipedia it. I was with my roommate at the time and watching YouTube gave me the distinct impression that Estonians have always given up Kiiking (extreme sports). The first thing roommates asked me over the years was if I was still “kiiku”. , How many times did you kick in a day?
At first I thought I would be here for a year or two, but before I knew what my plans were, Tallinn sneaked in and became my home. In 2014, I decided to quit her Skype and went on vacation to Australia. On that break, I had a goal to take some time and think deeply about what I really wanted to do with my life.On day two, a friend called me to talk about robotics at a stealth startup now known as Starship. was asked if he wanted to talk to Ahti. As soon as he mentioned robots, I ditched all thoughts of searching for souls like lead bricks.
What was your first impression of Starship?
A little strange. Hundreds of people from all over the world gathered on Skype for constant social action. Starship’s first office was her five people crammed into one small room in Tenopole. When I joined, it was a big deal to spread out over two small adjoining rooms.
The first 6 months were very quiet, averaging about 7 words spoken per day. In the office were me, Andy, and about five Estonian engineers. we just worked. We didn’t have anything, we desperately needed everything, so we sat there in silence, writing software, mechanical engineers designing robot parts, and testing them outside in the cold rain. did.
I’m used to working with introverts as a software engineer, but the biggest difference I noticed was that Estonians don’t seem to boast. This can actually be a problem in large international organizations. At Microsoft, many shouted their work from the rooftops while the Estonians quietly achieved greatness. Management can get the impression that the loudest people do the most without looking deeply into the output. In general, I think Estonians are dedicated, driven and very honest. When you see emotions and warmth, it’s almost certain that it’s what they really feel and think. And knowing that people’s actions are honest and don’t need to be filtered can actually be very relaxing.
What was the hardest part of moving to Estonia?
Not a lot, but it was a very livable place. The hardest part was the first winter, when it was extremely cold, but it became much easier once I stopped caring about fashion. I thought I could wear jeans and a stylish jacket, but things went much smoother when I started wearing some nice thick boots and Arctic survival gear. But it made me feel alive, not on the brink of death.
I’ve had a variety of roles on Starship. First as Head of Localization, then FleetShe worked as Head of Team and now Head of Autonomous Driving. What was the hardest part so far?
Honestly, its first year. A colleague and I started working on localization (of the robot), but it didn’t go well for a while. Some produced results, but they were not certain. It took months of work, and during most of that time there was no clear sign of progress or even pointing in the right direction. The ration was not insignificant.
At some point the company got big enough and I became the localization team lead. After that, I moved on to lead the fleet orchestration team. [Heinla] Come to my desk and ask if you’d be interested in this alternate role. was new and fun.
What is Starship’s main attraction?
So you have an amazing mission to make deliveries with a robot on the streets, it’s a crazy sci-fi dream. And really, to actually change something, maybe to have a big impact on the world. But more than that, working for Starship was a very enlightening learning experience. Every time I thought I learned a little bit about how to be practical, Starship taught me so much more. This is the most practical, uneducated place I’ve ever worked.
Engineers are more empowered than anywhere else I’ve experienced and are expected to understand what to work on. Investigate, examine data, reason, and prioritize. We encourage independence, critical thinking and autonomy. Working at Starship, I realized that if you hire such smart people, you should let them use all their smarts. When you actually get five team members to think critically about what they’re doing and decide what to work on instead of just doing it, you’re essentially hiring five times more intelligence. This means broadening decision-making and prioritization responsibilities beyond just asking for input so that people can actually practice, learn, and develop habits.
I also realized that the best people are those who can be left alone for a long time, who not only continue to do impactful work, but also give positive surprises.
What are you most proud of about your own achievements?
I’ve written a huge amount of software over the years, some of which is still in use. But more than that, if I inspired or helped you grow here, that’s what I’m most proud of.
What will the future bring?
Starship has touched millions of people around the world, but as much as we have achieved, there is still much more to do. We have to improve everything, build better apps, make robots behave more humanly, enable them to handle more extreme situations autonomously, and say better things. And of course, we need to expand and deploy robots in more places.
Finally, I would like to say that the world is changing rapidly. But this crazy and improbable journey of having robots make deliveries on the streets and automating the local transportation of matter in much the same way the Internet does for information is a space where real change is possible. Among them, one of Starship can bring about this amazing amount of change in the world. To make the future a little closer.
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