THE CAMBRIDGE ENGINEER
Cambridge University Engineering Society Michaelmas â€¢ Nov 2017
Automating our Future How automation plays a role
Contents 04 Moving closer to autonomous driving 07 Career Profile: Arm 10 The next generation : automated testing for RuneScape 15 Hydrogen or Electricity: Whatâ€™s next for transport? 18 Career Profile: Amazon 22 Making machines chat
From the Editor In our Michaelmas issue this year, we look into the theme of automation. This has definitely been a buzzword in recent years,
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especially in giant tech companies. We try to look at how automation fits into our world in different ways, and how it plays a role in a variety of industries. Automation could potentially help to solve problems with urban transport, through self-driving cars, or strengthen our manufacturing capabilities, with the big push towards Industry 4.0. And of course, other than dealing with the huge problems we face in modern society, there are the everyday conveniences that automation can help us through, with gadgets such as the Amazon Echo and Alexa with it. Finally, best of luck with the rest of Michaelmas, and hopefully this issue offers a little break in between all the projects and supervisions!
Magazine Editor Sze Ning Chng email@example.com
MOVING CLOSER TO AUTONOMOUS DRIVING Niharika Bhargava (Newnham 2011) from Jaguar Land Rover writes about the key technologies driving the future for autonomous vehicles.
The automotive landscape is changing at an ever increasing pace. As a technology company, Jaguar Land Rover is continuously innovating to assist and ultimately enhance the driving experience. UK Autodrive is a consortium of leading technology and automotive businesses, local authorities and academic institutions working together on a three-year UK trial of Connected and Autonomous technologies. It is aimed at establishing the UK as a global hub for research, development and integration of automated and connected vehicles into society. It will also investigate other aspects of automated driving, including safety, cyber-security, legal and insurance issues as well as the publicâ€™s acceptance of connected and autonomous vehicles. In June 2017, as part of the ÂŁ20 million UK Autodrive research and development
Image courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover
project, Jaguar Land Rover showcased
then decides the optimal route. It navi-
Connected vehicle technologies allow
both autonomous and connected
gates the complex urban environment
cars to talk to each other, as well as
technologies such as Autonomous
and stops in a safe location (kerbside
to the roadside infrastructure such as
Urban Drive, Intersection Collision
or parking bay) upon reaching the
traffic lights. Three such technologies
Risk Warning, In Vehicle Signage and
destination. This technology brings us
were demonstrated as part of the UK
Emergency Vehicle Warning.
a step closer to achieving ‘Level Four’
Autodrive project at MIRA.
autonomy in Jaguar Land Rover’s Autonomous Urban Drive, prototype
future vehicles within the next decade.
Intersection Collision Risk Warning
technology designed and developed
Level four autonomous vehicles, as
(ICRW) warns the driver in advance
in-house and trialled at the HORIBA
defined by the Society of Automotive
when it is not safe to enter an inter-
MIRA Proving Ground, enables the
Engineers (SAE), are capable of carry-
section because of a high probability
vehicle to operate autonomously
ing out the entire driving task for spe-
of a collision. ICRW could reduce the
through the city circuit, obey traffic
cific environments such as towns and
number (and severity) of collisions and
lights as well as negotiate T-junctions
cities without any driver intervention.
and roundabouts. Using this technol-
Level one and Level two features like
ogy, passengers can select a loca-
adaptive cruise control and traffic jam
In Vehicle Signage (IVS) sends road
tion on the on-screen map and the
pilot are currently available in market.
and traffic information such as road-
Range Rover Sport research vehicle
works or a change of speed limit
Image courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover
Image source: IBM
directly to the carâ€™s display, minimis-
autonomous cars before tests on
ing dependence on physical road-
public roads in Milton Keynes and
side signs. This connected technology
Coventry. These will initially take place
aims to reduce accidents and conges-
on closed roads before evolving into
open-road trials and demonstrations as the UK Autodrive project draws to
Emergency Vehicle Warning (EVW) tells drivers when an emergency vehicle is approaching, and from which direction. This connected technology aims to improve safety, reduce response time for the emergency vehicle and cut congestion by helping drivers pull over more quickly and less stressfully. These demonstrations marked the final set of trials of connected and
a close in summer 2018.
Jaguar Land Rover offers Graduate scheme opportunities and Undergraduate summer placements for penultimate year students, as well as sponsorship under the Women in Engineering and Systems/Electronic/Electrical/ Control/Computer & Software Engineering schemes that are open to all undergraduate years. These are currently open for applications till December 2017. For more information, please visit jaguarlandrovercareers.com
John Penton (Trinity, 1996)
CAREER PROFILE: ARM What did you study at Cambridge?
on your phone, or the M-class (e.g. Cortex-M4) processor that you might
John Penton (Trinity, 1996), is an alumni of CUED and Arm’s Cortex R-Class CPU Architect. In this interview, he shares more about his experiences working with ARM.
I matriculated at Trinity in ‘96, initially
find on a dev board microcontroller.
studying Natural Sciences (physical)
Cortex-R processors run as the brain
but with half a mind towards what
for many real-time control-systems.
I eventually did which was switch
They target safety-critical applications
to EIST (Electrical and Information
like robotics, automotive, and aero-
Sciences) for Part II. I might other-
space, as well as hard discs and solid-
wise have been a physicist or even
state discs, and are found in phones
a geologist. My fourth year choices
controlling the modem. Because they
were focused on semiconductors and
are often controlling physical systems
related topics, which built on physics
like engines or motors, they need to
to some extent, and my project was
provide real-time control and because
on high voltage devices on Silicon-
they are embedded there is more
on-Sapphire substrates with Dr. (now
scope for specialized features for
safety, responsiveness etc.
What do you work on now?
How did your career progress to this point?
I am Arm’s lead CPU architect for ‘R’-Class processors. R-class,R-class
I had a summer job at ARM in ‘99 but
or “deeply embedded” processors
after graduating took a year out (work-
are the ones that you never hear
ing as an AV technician for a Christian
about, unlike the A-class processor
charity) before joining as a gradu-
(e.g. Cortex-A75) which runs the apps
ate. I have stayed in the same group
throughout my time, primarily developing R-Class processors. After working on a number of different projects
What are some of your most memorable, challenging, or enjoyable experiences, working at Arm?
in design, verification and test, I was
ing at Arm: it takes a while for Cortex-R processors to appear in products, but they have good longevity and there are now billions of products of hun-
asked to lead a project (upgrading
The most memorable things have
dreds of types containing IP that I
Cortex-R4), and since then I have lead
often been the most challenging, but
three more processor design projects
are also the things that I have learned
– most recent being the Cortex-R52 –
most from. Late projects have devel-
among other things.
oped my skills in managing and track-
What does day in the life of an Arm CPU Architect involve?
ing work. Nine months working on Last year I moved from ‘product engi-
a design which we threw away and
At the moment I am working on the
neering’ to a ‘technology architect’
started again taught me the value of
early stages of a project so I am
role, looking forward to what we
being critical (though it is still difficult
attending meetings to explain the
should develop next, and still work-
to be ruthless!).
goals, learn about the results of the
ing closely with the teams developing
investigations that the team are per-
the next R-class processors. This year
On the positive side, I most enjoy
forming and contribute my ideas and
at our internal engineering confer-
interacting with partners on a detailed
opinions to the development. Later
ence, I was recognized as an Arm
in a project I will typically be working
Distinguished Engineer, so now my
their problems and discussing how
with the project manager to track the
job title is “Architect & Dist. Eng –
we might solve them, and helping
project’s progress against the plan,
Cortex R”, because it has to fit into 40
to develop other engineers and best
deal with issues as they arise, support
practices in Arm. I’m proud of the
the engineers with problem-solving
global impact I have had while work-
and the details of the specification,
Arm is quite an open company - there are few boundaries in terms of grade and organization which means that anyone can learn from anyone else.”
Images courtesy of Arm
and reviewing some of their work.
presentation and then was taken to
IP which was in development. When
my desk to meet my manager to start
I started as a graduate at Arm I was
I interact a lot with Arm’s partners to
work and I picked up the rest and
similarly part of the flagship project
understand what their requirements
got to know people as I went along.
which was ongoing at the time and
are, or to explain existing or forthcom-
For my first few projects I did a wide
today’s graduates also contribute to
ing Arm technology and discuss how it
variety of tasks which gave me experi-
might fit their needs. I also get to pro-
ence in a number of areas. Nowadays
pose work and shape the Arm prod-
we are more organized in the way that
Arm is quite an open company - there
uct roadmaps by making the case to
new starters are introduced to the
are few boundaries in terms of grade
managers within my own group, and
company with specific events to help
and organization which means that
through influencing managers and
them understand the structure of the
anyone can learn from anyone else.
technologists in other groups which
company and meet people, and we
In my early days that meant I could
produce products related to Cortex-R
organize rotations so that graduates
go and seek advice from senior engi-
get to perform a variety of tasks in
neers and now that I have been at Arm
their first year.
a while I get to share my experience
What has it been like, working at Arm? What can aspiring graduates expect?
with and thereby contribute to the One thing which has remained con-
development of new graduates, and
stant though is that it is work con-
where I have expertise in a particular
tributing to real ongoing projects. I
area I get asked to help other projects
Arm has grown a lot since I first worked
enjoyed my fourth year project con-
or groups that are new to it.
here - from a few hundred employees
ducting novel research and similarly
When I started as a
my summer job at Arm was develop-
graduate I had an hour’s induction
ing the test suite for a new piece of
Images courtesy of Jagex
THE NEXT GENERATION : AUTOMATED TESTING FOR RUNESCAPE
Jagex shares they developed their tools for automated testing of their games, particularly as they move RuneScape into a mobile platform.
At Jagex, we have always focused on making widely
will quickly cover the architecture of the original Compat
accessible high-quality adventures happen. Since 2001,
Control and move onto discussing the design behind the
RuneScape has been home to hundreds of millions of
new mobile testing system.
adventurers - 254 million to be precise (Guinness World Records, 2017). As discussed in the 2016 Michaelmas edi-
Compat Control interfaces with our Compat Lab. The
tion of The Cambridge Engineer, our new C++ RuneScape
Compat Lab is a museum of 50 computers running on 3
NXT game client aimed to run the game on a 12 year
operating system platforms spread across a decade of
legacy hardware range, while also effectively utilising new
hardware. The machines have been setup to mimic a home
graphical chipsets. This improved game visuals for new
environment. They are connected to a KVM switch, which
technologies, while guaranteeing that players with older
allows easy access from the internal office network. Having
hardware can still enjoy the adventures they love. To guar-
a release schedule of at least one game client release a
antee the quality of a new game client for the worldâ€™s most
week, this setup allows a small team of QA experts, with
prolifically updated MMORPG (1,054 times by 2017) in a
limited time, to remote test each release on a plethora of
cost-effective manner, we developed extensive automated
Compat Lab machines. The range of devices allows for a
testing tools. Having successfully released the client, we
wide hardware test coverage, while the connectivity allows
are now undertaking an even more ambitious task - intro-
for haste and convenience, both speeding up the process
ducing RuneScape to the world of mobile. Alongside the
and increasing the quality guarantee of each release.
monumental task of developing this, our team has been busy building the next generation of quality assurance (QA)
Built to interact with the Compat Lab, Compat Control is
a Master Test Server, which communicates with a Python Slave Test Agent on each Compat machine over HTTP.
The development of the original automation tools, named
The Agents receive instructions from the Master Server
Compat Control, supplemented our existing computer
on which game tests to run, conducting image compari-
Compatibility Laboratory (Compat Lab). Compat Control
sons and measuring game performance metrics, such as
currently offers automated testing for 3 RuneScape (RS)
CPU, GPU and Memory usage. Once tests are completed
game clients and has recently started introducing tests
and results are finalised on the Agent, they are sent as
for our RuneScape Old School (RSOS) client. Additionally,
a report to the Master. The Master Server is written as a
we are developing a mobile extension to test our newly
PHP-PostgreSQL web API, which provides the main user
announced RSOS and RS mobile applications. This article
interface for scheduling tests, as well as a widely available
way of retrieving results. In addition to the user interface, our build systems have been configured to push and test every new game client build automatically. Compat Control started as a proof of concept, but has since become a significant part of the RS Technical QA team dayto-day operations. The system saves hundreds of hours of effort each day, by simultaneously running on multiple Agents, allowing a small team to effectively test all releases. The extensive and consistent reporting, allows reliable comparisons. Coupled with easy access, this allows for quick and painless dissemination of results and comparisons to developers, guiding the development of better performing software. Similar to computers, mobile devices now have wildly diverse specifications - especially when cross-platform Android/iOS releases are concerned. With different screen sizes, operating systems, operating system versions and hardware, guaranteeing the compatibility of a game client in such an environment is no easy task. Adding to this complexity, our goal still remains the same - to provide all the adventures of Runescape with the quality guarantee of our computer clients on as wide of a range of mobile devices as possible. To achieve this, we firstly added more than 30 different mobile devices ranging in operating system, version and hardware to our Compat Lab. All of these can be signed out physically or accessed through computers on the KVM switch. Having added the mobiles to the Compat Lab, we needed to find a way to introduce the Compat Control capabilities to them. The first challenge was inheriting the codebase. This was a challenge as we were not directly involved in the original development of Compat Control and it was written in an unfamiliar to the team programming language. To address this, a new Spring Boot Java API interface was seamlessly added to the Master Server to handle the Mobile Compat Control. By doing this, we guaranteed that the team could develop a high quality interface in a timely fashion, without accumulating more technical debt and hindering maintenance.
While Java and PHP was inter-
mobile device was mostly identi-
changeable on the Master Server
cal. Implementing a test factory
side, we saw little reason to change
allowed us to construct the cor-
the Slave Agent language. Python
rect automated test on demand by
is versatile enough as it allowed for
providing a minimum number of
the ease of cross-platform proto-
test specific properties. All identi-
typing we needed and provided the
cal setup was handled behind the
right type of UI automation librar-
scenes, with the factory allowing
ies, while also providing the power
selective overriding should new
of Object Oriented Programming.
preferences arise. As a result, new
In other words, it was still the right
bespoke tests can be created and
tool for the job.
added to production in a few hours.
Having solved the tools selection
Introducing a test which can run
challenges, we turned our atten-
hundreds of hours of device test-
tion to system planning. Adding
ing, before the end of the work day
to the existing capabilities dis-
adds substantial power and value
cussed in the previous section, the
in a time pressured environment.
system needed to be capable of
Adding this power to our already
simultaneously running multiple
processes and conducting rela-
Control framework meant that we
tively complex set-ups for both
can now automate our mobile ven-
iOS and Android, which included
tures, with all the functionality of
parallelising Appium servers with
the existing automation system and
Android SDK and iOS development
improved test development capa-
tools. While test setup was com-
plex, from a design perspective the relationship of each test to a
The system saves hundreds of hours of effort each day, by simultaneously running on multiple Agents, allowing a small team to effectively test all releases.â€?
HYDROGEN OR ELECTRICITY: WHAT’S NEXT FOR TRANSPORT? Shell shares some ideas about how we might fuel the future of transport.
Transport accounts for more than one
well over a century. In 1892, we suc-
quarter of the world’s total energy use
cessfully transported the first shipment
and one fifth of global energy-related
of oil through the Suez Canal on a tank-
carbon dioxide emissions. This means
er. Since then, we have continuously
that the transport sector has a funda-
broken boundaries, including develop-
mental role to play in helping global
ing the first high-octane aviation fuel,
efforts to reduce emissions.
which allowed propeller-powered aircraft to fly faster.
Changes in the way the world produces and uses energy are underway.
This number of vehicles, moving peo-
There are many significant changes
ple, parcels and produce, has helped
taking place in the world- and at Shell
make Shell one of the world’s largest
we understand the need to be agile,
retailers with around 43,000 branded
and change with it.
sites in more than 70 countries. We handle around 25 million retail cus-
The transition to a low carbon future
tomer transactions a day on these sites.
will unfold over the course of the century and it will move at different paces
But a successful past does not ensure
in different sectors in different coun-
a successful future.
tries. The global energy system will take Since the invention of the wheel, inno-
time to transform. All forms of drive
vation – the carriage, the steam engine,
- train, the components which power
the internal combustion engine – has
a car – and energy sources will be
allowed each generation to travel fur-
required to meet the growing
ther, faster and more frequently than
demand for mobility, from battery elec-
the one before them.
tric to hydrogen electric.
Shell has been a part of the develop-
In a recent article written by Executive
ment of the transportation sector for
Vice President of New Energies at
Images courtesy of Shell
road today, we must continue to plan for tomorrow. The development of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) is progressing and at Shell we look at how charging services can complement our existing business. There is no doubt that wider deployment of BEVs will happen, but it’s also clear that the infrastructure challenges will be significant. The power demand to recharge a BEV is not quite like plugging in your toaster or putting on the kettle. It is more like plugging in an extra house. Shell, Mark Gainsborough, he outlined three things that he
At Shell we also believe that not all electric vehicles will
believes are essential to a successful lower carbon future
be powered by batteries. Hydrogen electric vehicles also
have a lot to offer. For example, they are quick to refuel, drive similar distances to petrol or diesel cars, and only emit
Cutting Emissions Today
Firstly, we need to leverage the technology we have avail-
A Level Playing Field
able to us today. In 2030, the majority of cars globally will still use an internal combustion engine – so let’s work on
Finally, we need policies that allow a range of technolo-
improving their environmental performance. Combustion
gies and fuels to compete openly and fairly on the market.
engines need liquid transport fuels – but this doesn’t have
Sustainable conventional biofuels, for example, should be
to mean petrol and diesel. Sustainable biofuels offer a via-
judged on their carbon performance – and recognised for
ble alternative. A Shell joint venture in Brazil called Raízen
the important role they can play in meeting decarbonisation
is a leading producer of sugar-cane ethanol. From cultiva-
and renewable targets.
tion to use, this biofuel can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 70% compared to petrol. Combined with greater engine
Because everyone’s journeys differ and because consum-
efficiency, sustainable biofuels can be a valuable part of the
ers have different needs in different places, policies must
energy mix to reduce CO2 emissions in the transport sector.
also embrace a range of emerging fuels, technologies and markets. Together, policy makers, manufacturers, and fuel
Preparing for Tomorrow
suppliers can help achieve decarbonisation goals. As Henry Ford said: Coming together is a beginning, staying together
Secondly, as we work to reduce emissions of cars on the
is progress, and working together is success.
CAREER PROFILE: AMAZON 18
Catherine Breslin is the manager of a team of machine learning scientists working on the speech and language technology behind Amazon Alexa (Cambridge, UK). She shares with us her experience working on Alexa with Amazon. What is your current position at Amazon and how long have you been there? I joined Amazon 3 and a half years ago as the only one on my team in Cambridge UK, and now I lead a team of scientists here. We work to make the speech recognition and language understanding behind Alexa, Amazonâ€™s cloud-based voice service, smarter all the time.
Working at Amazon What attracted you to choose this position at Amazon? Images courtesy of Amazon
I joined Amazon before Alexa had launched because I was excited to find out what Amazon were working on in the area of speech technology. Iâ€™ve always been interested in applying technology to real-world problems, and Amazon is a great place to do that.
Could you describe what a typical day might be like?
calendar, control compatible smart
and language understanding to solve
home devices, and more. Voice is
the most natural and convenient user In a typical day I split my time between
interface, and Alexa combines auto-
working with my team, and collabo-
matic speech recognition, language
rating with other science and engi-
understanding and text-to-speech so
neering teams in Amazon. It is impor-
that you can just ask.
tant that we work closely with other teams because the problems we work on are new, and we need different views from different people to come up with the best solutions for Amazon
What was your experience like working on Alexa? Was there a moment where you felt was really satisfying? Or particularly challenging?
I would say that machine learning is a great field to be thinking about working in now because we are just starting to see how much potential it has to impact the world. Still, the
customers. One project which was both rewarding
technology is guided by those who
What are your favourite things about working for Amazon? And on the other side, what might be challenging about working there?
and challenging at the same time was
build it and so we need to encourage
bringing Alexa to the Amazon FireTV.
a diversity of people to enter the field.
This project challenged me by taking
In my team we combine machine
me well outside of my comfort zone. I
learning with software engineering, to
Itâ€™s very rewarding to work on prod-
had to learn new technology and also
build and deploy systems at a large
ucts and technologies that are used
learnt to while working with teams
scale. Those who apply typically have
by millions of customers around the
who were new to machine learning,
either a Masters or a PhD in machine
globe and to tackle the difficult prob-
but it was very satisfying to complete
learning or a related field. However,
lems that arise from working at such
there are many roles on the Alexa
a large scale. On the other side, there is a lot of interest in machine learning right now so the area is very fast moving with new and interesting papers
team, from software engineer through
What do you think are the major trends in speech recognition? What is the next breakthrough needed?
published every week. Keeping up with all the latest developments and
In the past few years we have seen
ideas in the field can be challenging.
an increasing use of deep learning and neural networks in speech
Alexa, and future trends in this area
recognition, which has led to large improvements in accuracy of these
Could you briefly describe the technology behind Alexa?
systems and enabled them to be useful in services like Alexa. In the future, I believe that we will see improvements
What advice would you give students interested in your line of work? What sort of skills might they need? How do people normally enter this field?
Alexa is a cloud-based voice service
in speech recognition combined with
to play music, make calls, check your
other technology like computer vision
to data specialist and user interface designer, each of which has different requirements.
In the future, I believe that we will see improvements in speech recognition combined with other technology like computer vision and language understanding to solve new problems.â€?
MAKING MACHINES CHAT In midst of a very warm day, an auton-
machine management system that
omous car is driving down a road in
allows conveyor belts to communi-
Brighton. The passenger orders the car
cate directly with each other, this is
to open its electrically-powered win-
anything but a problem. The belt esti-
dows but something is wrong: nothing
mates that it will last another twelve
happens. In Cambridge, another car of
days without maintenance if its cur-
the same model receives a message
rent workload is reduced by 20% and
from a friend: in warm days, take care
sends out a message to other belts
of your window circuitry, or otherwise
asking if they could share some of its
it might stop working! Immediately,
loads. After checking their own condi-
the car in Cambridge changes its
tions, two belts offer to take up 5% and
cooling algorithms to ensure that the
15% of the belt’s workload, respec-
circuitry is kept at a safe temperature.
tively, and the other two declined the request as they are not as healthy.
At the same time, in one of the marble
Therefore, the workload for this par-
quarries of Scotland, the owner is wor-
ticular belt is reduced and the owner
ried about the vibrations of one of five
of the quarry is able to deliver marbles
conveying belts, and a maintenance
is scheduled for this particular belt
in six days. He has just secured a
generous order from a construction
Automation Laboratory (DIAL), PhD
company and to meet the demand on
students Adrià Salvador and Hao Li
time, he needs all conveyor belts up
are looking into how to make these
and running for at least another ten
scenarios a widespread reality in the
days. Thanks to the newly purchased
manufacturing industry. Hao’s focus is
Adrià Salvador and Hao Li are PhD students at the Distribution Information Automation Laboratory (DIAL) at the Institute of Manufacturing. We learn more about the research they work on at DIAL.
Images courtesy of Adrià Salvador and Hao Li
on getting a fleet of assets performing
allows for each individual machine
increasingly reliable and intelligent
similar tasks in a production system to
develop its own predictive models,
machines as the customer pays per
coordinate in order to come up with
while updating it with information from
working hour and the maintenance
the optimal operation and mainte-
the rest of the fleet. In this system,
and operational costs affect directly
nance plan that is best for the system,
machines talk with each other in order
the profits of the manufacturing firms.
not necessarily the most desirable
to update neural network models that
for the individual asset. This poses
then are used to improve their failure
With its contribution to the world of
great challenges, as it means that
predictions. Adrià’s approach will be
applied artificial intelligence, DIAL’s
the machines must somehow “under-
tested in a fleet of hundreds of Gas
Asset Management team tries to
stand” a very broad array of processes
Turbines located all around the world.
enable a more sustainable, efficient,
and inter-relations typical of a manufacturing firm.
and comfortable world. Maybe next Hao’s and Adrià research is motivated
time you take a gossiping break by
by a trend in industry known as serviti-
the coffee machine, you and your
Adrià’s focus is on distributed intel-
zation: companies are starting to sell
colleague will not be the only ones
ligence in large fleets of machines. He
services instead of things. This means
has developed an architecture that
that there is an incentive to build
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY ENGINEERING SOCIETY
W W W.C U ES .O R G .U K
The Official Cambridge University Engineering Society Magazine, Michaelmas 2017