Graduate student earns coveted internship at X
This highly competitive research position was described by Marinho as skunk work. “They do crazy inventions with high risk of failure that might never become a product. It’s just like we want to make things ten times, not ten percent better.”
X is a semi-secret research and development facility specializing in what they call moonshot technologies – radical, ambitious projects that have the potential to vastly change the world. The company is responsible for the development of Waymo, an autonomous car designed to make roads safer and improve mobility. They are currently working on other projects including Loon, a network of balloons traveling near the edge of our atmosphere that could help provide internet to rural, remote, or disaster stricken areas.
Marinho is part of Professor Naira Hovakimyan’s research group, the Advanced Controls Research Laboratory, where he works on autonomous systems, including collision avoidance and reinforcement learning in artificial intelligence. His group is analyzing how birds and animals avoid collision in order to improve the collision avoidance of robots, since animals function with fewer senses than a robot’s advanced sensors provide.
Marinho said that he could not disclose much about the internship, and said he did not have many details yet. Thanks to X’s reputation and the topic of his research, he said he believes he will be working on a project involving the interface of robotics controls and artificial intelligence.
Marinho said Hovakimyan was the one who encouraged him to apply, and reassured him that he had the potential to succeed.
After he completes his PhD Marinho wants to do R&D in industry. He said he enjoys the process of creation, innovation, and research, but also appreciates the proximity to the client and product.
He had a previous internship at Seagate, an American data storage company, where he worked in their R&D facility in Minnesota for three summers. He graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Control and Automation Engineering from Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and earned his master’s degree from École Centrale de Lille, a renowned engineering graduate school in France.