Laura builds a better world with autonomous vehicles
16 AUGUST 2021
Early in life, Laura Dal Col decided she wanted to do something meaningful for society and the environment. As a manager at the Scania Autonomous Transport Research department, she truly makes a difference in the world.
Around the globe, digital technology drives exciting new developments in sustainable transport. Technologies like automation, electrification and connectivity are reinventing transport. Automation will transform logistical flows by enabling goods to travel for longer distances without stopping. When improving energy efficiency and safety, and also relieving congestion issues, it will change the environment and the world to the better.
“I honestly find it hard to imagine any job being more rewarding than the one that I have at the moment. And that is because the work we are doing has a real impact on society. We are building a better and more sustainable transport system – and I feel really proud to be playing a role in that,” she says.
Growing up in Italy, Dal Col gained an interest for math and physics at an early age. However, most friends pursued medical studies, so she decided to study bioengineering. But after a course in automation, she immediately knew what she wanted. The decision to change her master degree to control engineering was easy. Eager to learn more, she moved to France to pursue a PhD in control engineering and automation.
Found a suitable job at Scania
Eager to put what she learned into practise, Dal Col began looking for a specific job. She found one at Scania, starting in 2017 as a development engineer of autonomous transport solutions.
“In pure software companies, developers focus on building the framework for autonomous driving and then partner with vehicle companies to test their products. At Scania, it is different, because we have the advantage of being able to develop the software and hardware together. Focusing on both the software and hardware at the same time is challenging, but it gives us an amazing opportunity to learn quickly.”
She rapidly advanced to Senior Developer and in April 2020, she got the opportunity to lead the team.
“I have just started this journey and I have a lot to learn as a leader. But communication and transparency is the key, and teamwork is essential. I want everyone to understand and acknowledge the strength of each individual in the team and benefit of each other’s strengths and skills,” says Dal Col. “I’m a true believer in diversity. Our team is very diversified in terms of competence and experience. That is very important when so much of our work is about trying out new angles and figuring things out for ourselves. Bringing different approaches and perspectives to the table is crucial for our success.”
Build, measure, learn
The team is working with autonomous deployment, infrastructure, maps and localisation. With this in-built intelligence, autonomous trucks can interpret and adapt to their surroundings and carry out pre-determined tasks.
“In traditional manufacturing, products are developed over time in small incremental steps. But with disruptive technologies like automation, we do not have time to do that. Taking big steps and getting new products out there quickly is the only way to learn what works and be competitive. Our mantra is build, measure, learn, in fast iterations according to agile practises. Have a plan, but do not plan too far ahead. And focus on the learning. We might not have all the answers right now, but what we can do is learn really fast.”
For the future she would love to continue the journey as a manager and working with new technologies. She appreciate that every day is different.
“Working with skilled people is fantastic. The motivation from the engineers gives me energy. Being a developer, I know how much work that has been put into that, and it makes me proud of my team,” she concludes.
In a dynamic environment you contribute with your knowledge and unique background to the diversity that is part of our success. This is a place for all kinds – generalists, specialists and managers. If you are motivated and prepared to take responsibility, you have every opportunity here at Scania.