Tuesday, December 4, 2018

2018-12-03: Andrew Miloslavsky: Former Video Game Competitor to NASA Programmer

Andrew Miloslavsky is a member of the AMA team.

Andrew Miloslavsky joined the Autonomy Incubator team nearly a year ago and is currently working as a programmer in support of the ATTRACTOR project.

Andrew received his Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Hunter College in New York City. During his freshman year, he entered his first video game competition, but it was to his surprise that this would start a streak of wins.  He continued to compete through college, and in doing so established a short but fulfilling career in competitive gaming.

From there, he started his first job at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia doing data analytics.  This then lead him to NASA Langley and into our very own branch!

"What I'm doing right now is I'm working mainly on the ATTRACTOR simulation for autonomous vehicles.  My job is to support the integration of autonomous systems into a simulated environment," he explained.

Simulations are extremely important for a project's goals because they allow one to test an algorithm in a much safer way.  Self-driving cars are an example of this.  In a simulation, you could test drive the autonomous vehicle without risking any accidental harm in real life.  Some people have even taken autonomous algorithms and incorporated them into video games, like Grand Theft Auto. They'd then drive around inside the game, learning how to follow the rules of the road, and if the car does something harmful, you would easily know something went wrong and be able to fix it. We're doing something similar (but for the greater good of society) by building our simulation on top of a gaming engine, as well.

Overall, ATTRACTOR is the main project, and the simulation is basically an environment that allows researchers to test out autonomous behaviors.  "That's my main job," Andrew explained.  "I support the simulation, add new features, fix any bugs, and pretty much cover any feature requests or necessities that come up."

Andrew has been at the Ai for almost a year.

Andrew is part of the AMA (Analytics Mechanical Associates) software team, and also generally supports whatever else comes up within there.  This team includes a lot of the main people that Danette looks to to complete specific tasks.

Once ATTRACTOR finishes up in a few years, they'll be able to demonstrate the different capabilities and accomplishments that the project has come up with.  There are many different parts of the overall project.  "All of the researchers around here are working on their little bits and pieces, and all of them will be joined together," he said.  "Some people are working on machine learning algorithms, some are working with computer vision, some are with trajectories."  It will all eventually be combined to meet the project's end goal.

Andrew has been a big part of the team so far, and we all look forward to seeing how the project progresses!

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