From Illinois Tech Magazine: Driving Into the Future of the Unknown



By Steve Hendershot

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YJ Ahn (M.D.M. ’06) seems too warm and approachable to be an agent of radical change. Yet those are the traits that she shares with her signature project, the Waymo Driver: a combination of both hardware and software that, when applied, looks like a sailboat wearing a fedora, but that aspires to make your car drive itself.

Ahn didn’t set out to design autonomous vehicles, or to work at Waymo, which spun out from Google in 2016 and, like Google, is a subsidiary of parent company Alphabet. But she did plan to devote her career to tackling complex challenges with society-altering implications, and the futuristic world of autonomous vehicles certainly qualifies.

“I enjoy [projects] with lots of technology and complexity, and making new things—that’s what gets me,” Ahn says. “I’ve always enjoyed the chaos [of pursuing an undefined solution]. That’s actually the most exciting time for me. When you’re able to create something new for people to experience, it’s so satisfying.”

Read more on the Illinois Tech Magazine website

Photo: YJ Ahn (courtesy of Waymo)