Chris Urmson heads up our driverless car program. Prior to joining Google, he was on the faculty of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, where his research focused on motion planning and perception for robotic vehicles. His self-professed motivation for his work? Making sure that his 11-year-old son doesn't get a driver's license in four and a half years.

Q: Why is Google working on self-driving cars?
A: Because we’ve always looked for ways that technology can change the world. More than a million people worldwide die each year in traffic accidents—94% of which are caused by human error. If we can solve this, it will prevent the majority of traffic-related deaths and injuries, and also help the millions of people who are unable to drive because of disabilities.  

Q: Where is the program right now?
A: We’ve reached a couple of major milestones this year. We've now self-driven over one million miles total in our Lexus SUVs, and continue to cover 10,000 miles each week—about what a typical American adult drives in a year. Our new prototype vehicles—with safety drivers on board—are now on public roads in Mountain View. We've also got two Lexus SUVs in Austin, Texas, so we can learn from different driving environments, traffic patterns, and road conditions.
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A prototype vehicle cruises through Mountain View
Q: Why build your own cars instead of using existing vehicles?
A: We actually did start out by modding two existing vehicles, the Toyota Prius and the Lexus RX450h. But designing our own prototype from scratch opened up possibilities that can’t exist in a car that’s built for and around a driver. For example, we were able to take out the steering wheel and pedals, and change the shape of the vehicle so our sensors can be placed for their optimal field of view. We were also able to build in backup systems for braking, steering, computing and more into the vehicle.
A Lexus SUV modified to be self-driving
Q: What’s the difference between your self-driving technology and what automakers are doing with autonomous driving?
A: Automakers are focused on driver assistance systems like advanced cruise control and automated parking. But in those systems, the driver is still expected to take over as needed. With fully self-driving technology, which is what we’re working on, the car is designed to do all the work of driving all the time, and a human is never expected to take control of the vehicle. We think this will have the biggest impact on safety and mobility for people.

Q: There are lots of articles about all the accidents Google’s cars have been involved in. Is that a sign that they’re not safe?
A: In six years, over the course of 1.8 million miles of autonomous and manual driving, we’ve been involved in 15 minor fender-benders. The self-driving car was never the cause. And except for the most recent incident, where some minor whiplash was reported, there haven’t been any injuries. Instead, given that we were rear-ended in 11 of those 15 incidents, the cause seems to be distracted drivers who aren’t watching the road. For anyone who wants the details, we now publish monthly reports with summaries of all incidents.

However, there’s something of a silver lining here: This is the first time we’ve been able to aggregate data about the rates of minor accidents on American city streets. They typically aren’t reported to police because there's little damage and no injuries. And given that we cover as many miles in one week as the average American does in a year, and have yet to cause an accident while in self-driving mode, we think we’re doing pretty well compared to human drivers.

Q: How do you plan to bring the technology to market?
A: We’re still figuring that out. We’re going to learn a lot from our testing in the next few years, including how people might like to use our technology in daily life. If it develops like we hope it will, we’ll work with partners to bring it to users. And maybe the best way to do that will be to use a car-sharing model rather than traditional ownership...but to be honest, it’s way too early to know how that would work.

Q: Sometimes human drivers have to make tough choices really quickly, like whether to speed ahead to avoid a potential collision, or slam on the brakes and risk getting hit. How does a self-driving car know how to react in those kinds of situations?
A: There’s no way to pre-program the car to do a particular thing in every possible situation—there are literally infinite scenarios that a vehicle could encounter, so it’s just not feasible. Instead, our technology gives the car fundamental machine learning capabilities to respond correctly to unexpected situations as they happen. The more our cars drive, the more scenarios they encounter, and the better the technology gets at handling them.  

Q: What’s up next?
A: We really want to learn how communities perceive and interact with self-driving vehicles, so if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area or Austin and want to share your opinion, we’re eager for feedback. We’ve also launched a public art project where artists in California can submit their work to be featured on our cars. And if you want to get the latest updates, check out our website, or follow us on Google+ or YouTube.

Posted by Steven Claunch, Online Hiring and Insights Team

At Google Students, we aim to provide content for students, by students. As a result, we asked Google interns to submit their best resume tips. Here are the 5 tips that kept coming up:

1. Tailor your resume to the specific company and job position
Every company has different values and traits that they’re looking for in candidates. It’s important that your resume reflects that. To illustrate, at Google, some of our big values are collaboration and problem solving, so if you were applying here, emphasizing how you have exhibited those values in previous roles you’ve held would definitely help you stand out. Similarly, you should adapt your resume to highlight the skills and experiences you have that tie in with the particular job position.

2. Only include roles that you’re prepared to speak about in depth
This is crucial. If granted an interview, everything on your resume is fair game, and interviewers will expect you to be able to talk them through the different experiences you’ve outlined on your resume. So, to be safe, make sure that you feel confident that, if asked, you could speak to each and every item listed on your resume.

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3. Use metrics and tangible facts (but respect confidentiality)
This one is especially important when applying to Google or other tech companies, but is useful no matter where you’re applying. Whether it be including how many lines of code you wrote, how much you increased efficiency, or even how many more customers you served per day than the average employee, being able to quantify your impact is a tremendous skill to have, because it adds credibility to your resume and gives recruiters a concrete understanding of what you bring to the table. However, make sure that you’re not breaching confidentiality when quantifying your impact. A safe bet is to use percentages rather than absolute numbers. For instance, “Increased revenue by 25%...” instead of “Increased revenue by $425k…”

4. Include extracurricular activities you do that make you unique
While you should fill the bulk of your resume with jobs and activities that are relevant to the specific job for which you’re applying, don’t be afraid to include a small section at the bottom of your resume that contains a few extracurricular activities that you’re passionate about and that make you unique. Most companies don’t want cookie-cutter candidates, and if you end up getting an interview, this section can provide some great talking points to break the ice at the beginning of the interview.

5. Have friends and/or family proofread your resume
Although it can be embarrassing to have other people read your resume, it’s much more embarrassing to send in a resume riddled with typos. It’s easy to miss typos when it’s your resume, because you’ve read it so many times. So, just to be safe, have several other people read your resume.

Posted by Steven Claunch, Online Hiring and Insights Team

From Google Glass to Project Loon, Adwords to Docs, our interns have the opportunity to work on some of Google’s most cutting edge and innovative projects. Interns also work across sales and other business functions, bringing a fresh perspective to the work done at Google. To show you just how much of an impact interns make and to highlight their unique experiences, we’re bringing you a special blog series: Google Intern Spotlights. This week, the spotlight is on Matt Walker, who is a Data Center Intern in our Council Bluffs, Iowa office. He spent six years in the Marine Corps before going to school to become a computer engineer. Currently, he attends Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Matt and his wife after a helicopter ride over Badlands National Park in South Dakota on 4th of July weekend.

Give us one fun, outlandish fact about yourself.
I have ridden an ostrich.

What inspired you to apply to this internship? What about Google made you want to be an intern here?
I applied for this internship after seeing an ad on the recommended-video feed of YouTube titled “Google likes Vets.” I watched the video, saw that they were looking for veterans going to school for engineering...and bingo-bango...I am an intern.

As for what made me want to intern, I think it was the notion of being a part of a company/program that affects so many people. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true.

What was your path to Google like?
I was in the Marine Corps for six years. Three years as an Information System Specialist (classified Outlook administrator), and three years as a Marine Security Guard in four embassies overseas. After being honorably discharged in 2011, I began pursuing a degree in Computer Engineering, first at Reedley Community College, then at Cal Poly SLO. I have held various jobs as a student (security guard, front desk at a gym, tutor, programmer, and RA) that all helped fill out my resume.

What team are you on? What stands out to you about your co-workers (besides that they’re smart)?
I am on the Hardware Operations Team (HwOps) at the Council Bluffs, IA Data Center (CBF). I would have to say the biggest point of interest about all the people that I work with is the diversity of skillsets and backgrounds that surrounds me. It seems like everyone is not only good at their job, but also really talented in some other (usually useful and applicable) area.

Can you give us a high-level overview of your project? What part of the project do you find most interesting and why?
Aside from being bounced around from team to team every couple weeks, I am working on a personnel management tool. In a place such as CBF, where the buildings are not only huge on their own, but there are also many of them spread across two sites nine miles apart, knowing who is where at a glance is important. My app will allow users to transmit what building they are currently in, so that program managers can make more informed decisions in regards to personnel, especially in urgent situations (critical service failure or something of that nature).

What’s your typical day like?
Well, I wake up in the morning, feelin’ like…well, like I do every other morning.

When I am not working on a task that is unique to whatever team I am on that week, I am either working on my personal project or asking other sections to allow me to shadow them for a couple of hours. I talk to a lot of FTEs and contractors alike. I do a lot of walking, a good amount of scootering (primary mode of transportation in a data center) and my fair share of sitting.

Has there been anything that has surprised you about working at Google?
I have found that when working with large groups of people, usually there’s a few individuals who you wind up going out of your way to avoid; however, at Google, I have not encountered any of those types of people. Everyone I have met or trained with has been so warm, positive and supportive. I believe that can only come from the fact that they are happy to be doing what they are doing and excited to share that feeling with those around them.

You work in the Council Bluffs, Iowa office. Is there a particular place or room on campus that you really like?
I don’t think I really have a favorite room or place, but there is a sitting area that I really like because of the coffee table, as seen below.

If you could only follow one account on Twitter, who/what would it be?
For this to happen, I would have to get a Twitter account. Once I did that, I would probably follow a comedian who is somewhat active...if I am going to be bothered by further notifications on my phone, they might as well be funny.

On the weekends, what’s your go-to place?
My bed. I do enjoy sleeping in quite a bit. When I am not doing that, I try to go somewhere new. I don’t think that I have been to the same place twice...yet.

Do you have any words of advice to aspiring Google interns, specifically for engineering students?
If you have not already learned to do so, learn to humble yourself. Being “good” at something at school is not the same as “good” on-site. The level of knowledge and skill that I am surrounded with is so humbling. With that said, I could not be in a better position to learn from some of the most experienced people.

What does “being Googley” mean to you?
Being as courteous to the people I interact with as they have been to me.

Best conversation in a MK/cafe/elevator?
Starting a conversation with a fellow intern about work led to another conversation with a FTE that concluded with him essentially solving a problem I was having with my car. I would never have expected he would have been able to help me!

The Top Black Talent program is Google’s award-winning outreach program designed to identify and develop the UK’s top black university students interested in business careers within our SMB (Small to Medium Business) teams. Participants took part in a seven-week, high touch mentoring program at Google London. The 2015 Google mentors were: Stephanie Sibanda, Javid Aslanov, Hannah Pennington, Davy Denke, Joanna Matuszyk and Martin Barnett.

Four student teams were created and partnered with four black female entrepreneurs based in London. Each team was tasked with competing in the Google Online Marketing Challenge. In line with the challenge, each team received a $250 AdWords advertising budget from Google and ran an online advertising campaign for the business owners.

We're excited to announce that three 2015 Top Black Talent participants Leon Johnson, Bjion Henry and Christina Okorocha will join Google this summer as Business Interns in the SMB Sales and Global Customer Experience teams.

“I’m so excited that I can now say that I’m a Google Top Black Talent program graduate and had an absolutely AMAZING time!”
- Ololade Olaore

We’ve asked four participants about their 2015 Top Black Talent experience. Check out what they’ve got to say:
The Google Online Marketing Challenge was your main project. Tell us a bit about GOMC?

Ololade Olaore: I learned so much about digital advertising and the impact that Google products, such as AdWords, can make on small and medium-sized businessesーwho can not necessarily afford a marketing director. If you asked me what Google Adwords was before completing the Challenge, I would not have had a clue, but ask me today and I could go on for hours about how it can help businesses grow.
Olivia Crooks: GOMC was challenging (in a good way)! My team had to learn about common issues faced by small-medium sized business and find ways around these issues. This made GOMC really engaging. If you have the opportunityーdo the Challenge!
What did you gain from your interaction with a real client?
Olivia Crooks: As a university student, making an actual impact on a real business felt amazing. As a team, we worked towards the clients goals, but also had the freedom to present ideas which were contrary to the clients first assumptionsーwith the aim of identifying opportunities to grow the business. Through this experience, I definitely developed important client-facing skills.

Bjion Henry: The business we worked with had very unique challenges and goals. It was fun spotting new opportunities for growth, and working with the client to strategize how we would go about achieving targets.

What kind of support did your Google mentor offer?

Leon Johnson: Together with my Google mentor, Stephanie Sibanda, we created a personal development plan (PDP) – which helped me to set various short- and long- term goals. The depth of my PDP has allowed me to analyse and better arrange my academic, career and home life. By consistently revisiting and revising my PDP, I hope to accomplish each and every one of my set goals.

Bjion Henry: My Google mentor, Javid Aslanov, guided me to identify relevant skillsets and attributes needed for a successful career and advised me on the various routes into the tech industry. What’s more, my mentor gave invaluable insights into Google’s culture and better prepared me for applying for an internship.

What was your favourite program highlight?

Leon Johnson: Helping the business owner: I grasped the opportunity to make a real impact on the business. Our team’s hard work was rewarded by winning the Top Black Talent program challenge ー this was absolutely amazing!

Olivia Crooks: Interview preparations: my mentor helped prepare me for the types of questions I would be asked during interviews, for roles in Google’s SMB (Small and Medium Business) Sales and Global Customer Experience teams. He also offered great insights into Google’s culture in Poland, Ireland, and all the other Google offices, where my mentor worked in the past.

Find out what our four business partners have to say about their Top Black Talent experience:

The Top Black Talent program is currently closed for applications; however, please do check out how you can join next year’s GOMC Challenge, complete the Digital Marketing Course and become AdWords certified.

Posted by Nicole Zwaaneveld, EMEA Non-Tech University Programs Team

Steven is a rising senior at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studies Communication and Consumer Psychology. He is a BOLD Intern on the Online Hiring and Insights Team. He hails from Miami and may or may not ride his bike four miles to and from In-N-Out Burger each Saturday.

Recently, we asked our Twitter followers to submit internship questions for our intern, Steven, to answer. Here are the results:

Q: Why did you decide to intern at Google?
A: There are so many reasons why I chose to come to Google: The quality of the people, the incredible access interns are given, and the opportunity to impact tons of people’s lives (just to name a few). That said, if I had to pick the one factor that most convinced me, it would be the chance to work on complex, interesting projects. I knew that if I went to Google, I’d be given a high level of responsibility (and wouldn’t have to get coffee for executives...thank goodness!), and the prospect of playing a vital role on projects that mattered to the company and the world really enticed me.

Q: I am enthusiastic and like to brainstorm. What else does Google look for?
A: Those are definitely two characteristics that will take you far! Google looks for four traits in candidates: General cognitive ability, emergent leadership, Googleyness, and role-related knowledge (in that order). Kyle Ewing, Director of Global Staffing Programs, discusses this here, and Laszlo Bock, who heads up People Operations, talks more about it here.

Q: What do you believe is the single most important thing you can do to up your chances?
A: I don’t know if there’s truly a “single most important thing,” because Google doesn’t look for cookie-cutter candidates. There’s no one university or job experience or skill that determines whether or not you get an internship here. However, I would urge you to put a lot of time and thought into your resume. Recruiters look through a huge amount of resumes, so I think it’s crucial to make sure that you’ve highlighted yourself in the best possible way. For tips on improving your resume, check out Laszlo’s posts here, here, and here).

Q: What is your favorite part about working for Google?
A: My favorite part of interning here is the collaborative ethos that exists here. On multiple occasions, I have emailed a Googler who had expertise on some topic that would help me with my projects, and every time, the person has been super excited to help me out and see me succeed (even if they’d never met me before). Usually, it’s very difficult to find people who are not only experts in their fields, but also willing and happy to share their knowledge with others; however, at Google, that’s just business as usual, and I love that about working here.

Q: As an intern, how do you fit into your team at Google?
A: Honestly, it has amazed me how well my team has treated me. I’ve never felt like a second-class individual or been excluded from any meeting or information just because I’m an intern. From day one, they have taken time to make me feel welcome and invaluable to the team. During my time here, we’ve had multiple fun team events, including this Bocce game (we beat our manager). They even brought me a cake and threw me a little party on my birthday. At the risk of sounding cliche, I truly enjoy being around my team, and they are a big reason why I look forward to going to work each day.

Bonus Question: What would you recommend to prepare for Google technical interviews?
A: Since I am not a tech intern, I asked several of my tech intern counterparts, and they mentioned that Cracking the Coding Interview was helpful. Additionally, be sure to check out this article, written by Dean Jackson, an engineer at Google. They also said that it’s very important to practice coding questions (leetcode, codelab, and stackoverflow are good places to practice).

Alice is a rising senior at the University of Chicago. She hails from D.C. and has interned at Google twice to date—once in Zurich, and once in Mountain View.
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June 26, 2015

Today’s the last day of my second internship at Google! After spending one summer in Zurich and another in Mountain View – Google’s European engineering headquarters and global headquarters, respectively – let’s just say that I’ve had more than my fair share of exciting times. So, I thought it would be fun to go back in time and share a few of my best stories from my two summers here.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share my intern journey from Zurich to Mountain View and dive into the many incredible experiences I had, including attending the EMEA Tech Intern Summit and launching GWE-MP, a mentorship program for female engineers at Google. But, before I get to all that, let’s start things off with the first page from my travel log, which dates back to my very first day on the job in Zurich in 2014. Happy reading!
June 30, 2014

Just got back from my first day at work! It still feels so surreal. I’ve only been in Switzerland for a few days, but I’m already starting to crave fondue at odd moments. My day was packed with exciting activities and new faces. Here’s a breakdown of everything that happened:
9:00 AM
I arrive at the office. Despite not having gotten much sleep the night before, my excitement quickly puts an end to whatever daze I’m in. First thing on the schedule: getting picked up by my host!
9:30 AM
I meet my co-intern, Han, and my host, Johnny, comes down to greet us. I know I like Johnny right away by the way he whisks us off to give us an impromptu tour of the Google Zurich office (“Zoogle” as it’s affectionately known).

It turns out the Zurich office is pretty amazing. I can hardly believe this is where I’m going to be spending my next three months. Out of all the spaces we visited, here are a few that stood out to me the most:
  • Jungle Lounge. Something straight out of Tarzan: leafy greens and stuffed monkeys everywhere. Gets you in the mood for quality coding, I hear.
  • Water Lounge. My personal favorite. Picture an aquarium crossed with a nap pod. Googlers come here to take a refreshing post-lunch break before getting back to work.
  • Fork(), an Asian café, home to – you guessed it! – zero forks.

After we finish setting up our accounts, Johnny takes some time to familiarize us with our team and project. I’m working on the YouTube MDx (Multi-Device Experience) team, which aims to unify the YouTube experience across different device platforms. Our main feature allows users to pair mobile devices with smart TVs in order to cast YouTube videos directly to the big screen. And, it turns out, Han and I will be coding a feature that makes this experience more social for everyone!

For our project, we’re going to enhance “Multi-User Mode” on YouTube TV, which is activated when multiple users in close range all pair their devices with the same TV. This feature has the potential to improve user experiences for people all across the world. For example, imagine a group of friends hanging out and queuing YouTube videos up on a shared TV. It’d be helpful for everyone to receive feedback when certain social actions occur, such as when someone in the group adds a video to the queue, joins the multi-user session, or leaves it. Our goal is to help everyone stay engaged with exactly what’s happening during their session.

After learning about our projects, we grab lunch with our new team in the main cafeteria, Milliways. There’s a machine that squeezes fresh orange juice on demand – definitely my favorite part of the cafeteria.

2:00 PM
The rest of the day is spent continuing our orientation and running through a few code labs (training tutorials to get Nooglers accustomed to Google’s internal tools and codebase). I’m already learning a lot and starting to feel integrated into the Google ecosystem. We wrap things up and grab dinner downstairs before parting ways and heading home. And with that, I’ve completed my very first day as a Noogler!

I can’t believe how great it is to finally be here. I can already tell it’s going to be an amazing summer.

Posted by Steven Claunch, Online Hiring and Insights Team

This is the first in our Life Hacks series, which aims to provide different insights into how to make your life simpler and more enjoyable.

In a world where everyone is multitasking and everything is instant, the potential for inefficiency and mistakes is astronomical. We’re constantly checking email while scrolling through our social media news feeds, all while catching up on the latest season of our favorite TV shows. Consequently, some tasks that we truly mean to do slip from our minds. In recent years, this had started to become a huge problem for me. As a busy college student trying to balance schoolwork, volunteering, and friends, I often found myself saying that aggravating phrase, “Oh man, I forgot.” Maybe you know the feeling. Enter the power of the checklist.
The famed B-17 checklist
Now, if you’re at all like me, you’re probably skeptical. After all, how could a measly checklist really be that helpful? Well, let me provide you with some evidence to back up the hype. In The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande writes extensively about (you guessed it!) the incredible difference that a checklist can make. To illustrate his point, he tells the story of the B-17’s first test flight. The year was 1935, and the B-17 plane was unlike any other aircraft that had ever existed. It could fly faster and farther than its contemporaries, and it could also sustain a much larger payload. Truly, it was the most complex and revolutionary aircraft of its day. And that was precisely the problem. On its maiden voyage, the pilot had “forgotten to release a new locking mechanism on the elevator and rudder controls,” which caused the plane to crash and a couple members of the crew to lose their lives. In response, the US Army decided to make one simple change. Yep, a checklist. The result? According to Gawande, with the help of a handy checklist, the pilots went on to fly the B-17 “a total of 1.8 million miles without one accident.” Pretty powerful stuff for a checklist. But wait, checklists didn’t just save the day for the Army; they also have saved the lives of numerous hospital patients. In fact, experimental studies have found that checklists cut the rate of death in half and the rate of complications from 11% to 7%. 

Pretty convincing, right? We thought so, too. At Google, we use checklists all the time. For instance, when a manager receives a new employee (Noogler) on her team, she is provided with a checklist of different actions she should take to help her Noogler get up to speed with the team. Altogether, the results have been astounding: Nooglers whose managers followed this checklist became fully effective 25% faster than their peers. So, case closed: Checklists work, and they work really well. 

While you may not be flying B-17s or operating on patients, you can still use checklists to help improve your life. Save yourself the time and stress. Make a checklist.