March 8, 2024Blog

In the spotlight: Miranda Aperghis, Fleet Learning Engineering Manager, AD/ADAS

Share Article

⚑ London, United Kingdom

Dissecting the hidden data complexities of ‘cut ins’, running half marathons in London, and taking part in Genchi Genbutsu, Miranda shares a glimpse into her engineering world as part of the autonomous driving and advanced driver-assistance system (AD/ADAS) team, as well her thoughts on what companies can invest in to better empower and enable their women.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about what your role in “Fleet Learning” means?

For us it’s all about data. I personally manage a team of four amazing engineers and we collect data from our “fleet” so that future Toyota vehicles are smarter and safer. Our APIs surface specific behavioral data that is ingested by machine learning models and that our AD/ADAS system then uses to continuously learn and improve. 

Right now, we’re focusing on ‘cut ins’, or sudden car merges. We’re working with our colleagues in the US right now to source large quantities of ‘cut in’ scenarios and we use traditional and machine learning methods to identify ‘cut ins’ in our vast datasets. The driving algorithms then use the examples of cut-ins and other behaviors my team finds to learn to respond in ways that maximize driver safety and comfort. 

Q: What is it about “data” in AD/ADAS that you think is most interesting?

There’s two parts to it: the complexity and the variety. When it comes to data in this area, there’s no single correct answer or approach.

Let's take the ‘cut in’ example. Humans can easily identify a ‘cut in’ in a video however it isn’t as straightforward for machines. Designing the optimal data format, logic and software architecture to recognize all the nuances that define a 'cut in' and other complex driving behaviors is a challenge. Factor in the diverse data we collect, the different driving conditions and that task becomes even more interesting. 

Then there’s the variety of downstream consumers of our data, who all have their own different requirements. Today it is designing platforms and APIs that can accommodate these diverse use cases within Woven by Toyota. In the future it could be for Toyota, Toyota Group companies that we partner with, other OEMs, regulatory bodies, or urban planners, each one has distinct needs and expectations from the data gathered and generated by our systems. And the challenge lies in creating flexible products that can cater to these diverse requirements, without compromising on scalability, privacy, or security. On top of that, making sure there is interoperability between different systems and compatibility with future technologies adds another layer of complexity. That challenge from complexity is another big part of what makes this so interesting.

Q: Can you share a memorable experience or moment from your time here so far?

That would be the work the London team delivered for Genchi Genbutsu at our offices in Palo Alto, California. Genchi Genbutsu is a Japanese concept that literally means “go and see for yourself” and it’s also one of our live internal demonstration opportunities to do exactly that. It’s more than just a place to show progress. It brings teams of engineers together. We can root  out problems at their source and solve them together more quickly and efficiently. The content is confidential but I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the event and present. I think that’s one of the biggest differences I’ve seen at Woven by Toyota compared to other companies I’ve been at, that were acquired, was the focus on making sure that every base has been covered when it comes to safety and quality.

Miranda is standing in front of the iconic Hoover Tower at Stanford University. She is dressed in a white shirt and black skirt, and the sky is blue with scattered clouds. Trees and greenery surround the area, creating a vibrant scene.

Q: How do you unwind outside of work?

Going to the theater in London is something I really enjoy. I’d have to say my favorites are The Book of Mormon and Hamilton. We’re definitely spoiled for choice in London and there’s always something new to see, or something great to see again. I also go to the gym in the mornings before work. In fact, that’s where I trained for my first half marathon that I ran in November! 

Q: Congratulations! Is that a one and done or will you keep that going?

I’m hoping to run another half marathon in 2024 and my goal is to get a faster time. A colleague of mine here in London runs marathons and they motivated me to run this half in the first place. They also signed up to the half marathon.Things like this are always easier with people beside you holding you accountable and pushing you along! I’m thinking about roping in more people from the London office next time…

Q: Where do you draw your motivation to keep training from? 

I like the saying: Try to get 1% better every day because over time, it compounds to something great. It resonates with me because it emphasizes the importance of small, incremental progress in achieving significant results over time. And I think that applies to something like training for a half marathon, but also to technical skills. 

When you start off and see all the things you can't do or don't know… it can really overwhelm you and it can be hard to get started. But if you focus on just the first step and take that, then the second step, and so on… it all ends up connecting and before you know it, the original goal you had feels doable. I think that’s what growth is really made up of: compounding steps.

Miranda is smiling next to a large, abstract metal sculpture in a park in London. The sculpture consists of curved, rust-colored metal plates. The park has lush green grass, large trees, and other people in the background. The sky is clear and sunny.

Q: Speaking of “growth”, this year’s International Women’s Day theme is ‘Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress’. What opportunities do you think exist for companies to invest in women to help them grow and succeed?

For me it’s about getting more women in leadership roles. There still aren't a lot of women in high-profile roles in the tech or automotive spaces, so companies in these industries need to prioritize programs and initiatives that encourage and support women to move up the ladder.

Beyond creating those official channels for growth, investing in mentorship and networking opportunities. We need to pair aspiring women leaders with mentors who can give them the guidance they need to be successful. And by sponsoring their involvement in external conferences and networking events, we can really help them build those crucial connections. 

If you could give one piece of advice to women who are interested in pursuing a career in the tech/automotive industry, what would it be?

Don’t let biases deter you from pursuing a career in tech. Seek out mentors and supportive communities. Remember that diversity and inclusion are essential for innovation and progress, and your unique perspective and contributions can drive positive change.

Miranda stands on a street corner beneath a traffic light with a small sign with "Miranda" on it. In the background, vehicles, including a yellow school bus, are waiting at a traffic signal. Green trees and road signs are visible under a clear blue sky.