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Minds of Motional: Pat Karnchanachari

August 03, 2023 Minds of Motional
Pat K at Motional

nuPlan Team Lead Pat Karnchanachari at the Motional office in Singapore.

Each month, we're highlighting the people who are using their talents and passions to help make driverless vehicles a reality. Our team is driven by something more.

Pat Karnchanachari, a Senior Engineer with Motional and our nuPlan™ Team Lead, talks about why he loves working in the AV space, his favorite project, and how he decompresses.

Describe your role at Motional - what do you do?

I lead the nuPlan team at Motional – the team’s mission is to improve our algorithms with every mile driven. The nuPlan team wears two hats. First, we build and maintain our planning and control teams' machine learning infrastructure and code base. Second, we open-source the nuPlan dataset and the nuplan-devkit for the wider AV community. The dataset and devkit together form an ML training and evaluation framework for AV motion planners. What makes this role unique is I get to interact and engage with both the best of the AV industry and academia.

What is your favorite thing about working in the AV/tech Industry?

The self-driving problem at scale remains unsolved. The AV space is where robotics meets the real world. I find it extremely motivating to work on a problem where there are no known solutions. That is when you know you are truly on the cutting edge. On top of that, I get to work alongside some of the industry’s brightest minds and motivated individuals.

How do you motivate yourself at work?

The work that I do is highly collaborative and cross-functional. This means there are others that rely on me and vice-versa. It is mutually beneficial for both myself and the teams I work with when we all deliver. It is rewarding to be helpful and dependable to others.

What has been one of your favorite projects you’ve worked on during your time at Motional? Why?

The nuPlan Planning Challenge. This project was by far the most unique project I have ever worked on. What made it stand out was that it went beyond a purely engineering project. I had to engage the AV community through social media marketing, coordinate with academics in the AV space, and present the findings at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) conference in Vancouver!

What has been one of the most important lessons you have learned since joining the Motional team?

Do it once, do it well. It is better to spend that extra little effort to do something once than to cut corners only to have to revisit it again in the future.

What is something unique about Motional’s Singapore office? 

The Singapore office inherited its culture from the nuTonomy start-up days. People still make an effort to get to know each other no matter what team they are from. There is a sense that you are not only known for the work you do but who you are outside of work as well. Oh, and it goes without saying that the food is better in Singapore.

Pat K Traveling

Pat traveling through Vancouver; he visited to present the findings of the nuPlan Planning Challenge at CVPR.

Where is your hometown/where are you originally from?

I’m originally from Bangkok, Thailand. Since then I have moved a few times; spent 8 years in Australia, 3 in Switzerland, and now I’ve been here in Singapore for nearly 3 years and counting.

What’s a fun fact about yourself that people would be surprised to know?

I mimic people’s accents - having lived in a few places I’ve picked up the habit to help myself be understood better.

Outside of work, what are some of your favorite hobbies and passions?

Despite all the good food you can find in Singapore, I prefer to cook. It is my way of decompressing and expressing myself creatively as well. Plus, you get to enjoy your creation at the end.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Iceland - its unique landscape is something I have yet to explore and experience.

What is your vision for the next five years - where do you see yourself? 

To not be complacent. Wherever I may be or whatever I’m working on, to constantly be learning and challenging myself.

Pat K Cooking

Pat decompressing and expressing himself through his favorite hobby - cooking.

Interested in working with us? Check out our open positions.