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Senior Software Engineer - Motion Planning



Software Engineering
South San Francisco, CA, USA
Posted on Thursday, August 24, 2023

About Zipline

Do you want to change the world? Zipline is on a mission to transform the way goods move. Our aim is to solve the world’s most urgent and complex access challenges by building, manufacturing and operating the first instant delivery and logistics system that serves all humans equally, wherever they are. From powering Rwanda’s national blood delivery network and Ghana’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution, to providing on-demand home delivery for Walmart, to enabling healthcare providers to bring care directly to U.S. homes, we are transforming the way things move for businesses, governments and consumers.
The technology is complex but the idea is simple: a teleportation service that delivers what you need, when you need it. Through our technology that includes robotics and autonomy, we are decarbonizing delivery, decreasing road congestion, and reducing fossil fuel consumption and air pollution, while providing equitable access to billions of people and building a more resilient global supply chain.
Join Zipline and help us to make good on our promise to build an equitable and more resilient global supply chain for billions of people.

About You and The Role

Zipline is at the forefront of a logistics revolution, using autonomous aircraft to deliver just-in-time, lifesaving medical supplies on multiple continents, 7 days a week. We value engineering solutions that are both innovative and practical, and we deliver, rain or shine, at a scale no other drone company can. We are integrated into national health care systems and are responsible for delivering life saving products when minutes count.

Our Autonomy team is looking for a Senior Software Engineer who is passionate about developing autonomous systems for the real world. This role will explore new approaches to decision making and trajectory planning that enables more accurate deliveries, putting you in the position to make critical product decisions that shapes our future architectures.

Among our current challenges:

  • Scale our autonomy software to allow 10,000 deliveries a day
  • Prototype, test, and refine autonomy software for next-generation delivery platforms, working alongside other software and hardware teams
  • Develop Detect and Avoid solutions that allow us to operate in any real world environment
  • Achieve safety and reliability goals beyond the current state of the art
  • Ground-up design of planning algorithms for tightly negotiating terrestrial obstacles

What You'll Do

  • Develop onboard decision-making and path planning software for our fleet of delivery drones
  • Enable the next level of scale for our life-saving service via fleet-wide coordination and deconfliction algorithms
  • Build and use simulation tools to determine the impact of new features before deploying them to the field
  • Analyze real data from thousands of flights to ensure the system is operating safely and efficiently
  • Architect new components of our autonomy stack as we extend the capability of our software to meet the challenges of new products and platforms
  • Mentor junior engineers and influence technical direction for the team
  • Work alongside the perception team to drive their subsystem requirements

What You'll Bring

You write quality code, and know how to validate its performance in the real world. You have the judgment to see where a project can be improved, to design a solution, and to see it through to release. You keep the end user and customer in mind in your work. You are comfortable communicating across a diverse engineering team, picking up new skills and sharing your knowledge.


  • 5+ years of professional experience developing software for hardware products in a safety-critical field, e.g. aerospace, robotics, medical devices, autonomous vehicles
  • Expertise in writing safety critical code in one or more of: C, C++, Rust
  • Demonstrated technical leadership in a production environment, writing software that runs on complex autonomous systems that operate in the real world
  • Knowledge of planning and search algorithms with industry experience in robotics, manipulation, or autonomous driving
  • Ability to build and use simulation and data analysis tools for evaluating system performance
  • Experience building real-world robotics systems and handling the long-tail corner cases to ensure high uptime systems

What Else You Need to Know

The starting cash range for this role is $180,000 - $225,000. Please note that this is a target, starting cash range for a candidate who meets the minimum qualifications for this role. The final cash pay for this role will depend on a variety of factors, including a specific candidate's experience, qualifications, skills, working location, and projected impact. The total compensation package for this role may also include: equity compensation; discretionary annual or performance bonuses; sales incentives; benefits such as medical, dental and vision insurance; paid time off; and more.
Zipline is an equal opportunity employer and prohibits discrimination and harassment of any type without regard to race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion or religious creed, mental or physical disability, medical condition, genetic information, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, military or veteran status, citizenship, or other characteristics protected by state, federal or local law or our other policies.
We value diversity at Zipline and welcome applications from those who are traditionally underrepresented in tech. If you like the sound of this position but are not sure if you are the perfect fit, please apply!