Software Engineer, Autonomy

Palo Alto, CA /
Heaviside – Software Engineering /
Here at Kittyhawk in Palo Alto, we are developing ground breaking all-electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) aircraft.  Project Heaviside is Kittyhawk’s latest high-performance electric VTOL vehicle. It is designed to be fast, small, and exceedingly quiet, taking advantage of new possibilities to free people from traffic. 

We are looking for an experienced Autonomy Software Engineer to join Kittyhawk’s Guidance Navigation & Controls team. Your primary responsibility will be developing offline (and online) path planning methods that optimize flight plans and aircraft trajectories for energy usage, obstacle avoidance, and interaction with air traffic, and integrating these methods in the flight control system.  You will work closely with the Systems Team developing appropriate strategies for managing and directing our fleet. You will also work closely with our Ground Control Software team and our Flight Test team to integrate path planning tools in our custom GCS.


    • Develop optimization tools for offline (and online) path planning
    • Develop methods for coordinating large fleets of aircraft
    • Integrate path planning methods with the flight control system and ground control station software
    • Validate path planning methods in simulation and flight test

Required Experience:

    • Ph.D in Aerospace Engineering, Computer Science, or related fields or 3+ years of relevant experience
    • Expert in nonlinear optimization and motion planning methods (e.g., SQP, RRT*, iLQR)
    • Strong understanding of modern control theory (LQR, Kalman filtering)
    • Strong programming skills in C/C++ and Python in a Linux environment
    • Basic understanding of flight dynamics and aerodynamics
    • Experience with robotics, autonomous vehicles, or drones operating in a real-world environment

Desired / Nice to have:

    • Experience with safety-critical software (DO-178C, MISRA, etc.)
    • Experience programming in Haskell
    • Passion for aviation and the future of transportation
We welcome you to apply even if you don’t match every requirement posted for this role.  No one candidate will be a 100% perfect match to our description, so if you are passionate about working on the next evolution in aviation and have similar experience to what we are looking for, we encourage you to apply.  Diverse backgrounds and experiences promote innovation and our goal is to build a team that encompasses a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and skills.

All of our team whose roles allow them to work remotely are doing so, and will continue to do so until we’re able to be back in the office. For teams that are not able to work remotely we’re making every accommodation possible to provide a safe working environment, and ensuring we meet all state and county guidelines. 

Our headquarters is in Palo Alto and we offer a comprehensive benefits package including medical, dental, vision, and life insurance, unlimited PTO days, 10 company holidays, a 401(k) plan with 40% company matching (no vesting period), flight lesson subsidy, education assistance, and company-sponsored social events. For those working onsite, Kittyhawk also offers commuter assistance, and free drinks and snacks.

Kittyhawk provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, Kittyhawk abides by applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment in every location in which the company has facilities. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation, and training.

Kittyhawk is an E-Verify employer.