Behind the Halo: Mike Dillon, The Passionate Software Engineer Shaping Halo's Autonomous Electric Vehicles

How has your background and experience prepared you for your role at Halo?

I have a bachelor’s degree in computer science with a specialization in intelligent robotics. I’ve been on robotics teams since high school and went on to mentor multiple teams for over seven years. In my previous role, I worked with developing state machines, communication protocols, and control algorithms for robots. Each of these experiences has held guide me to my current position with Halo. 

What is one of the most valuable lessons you've learned while working with your team at Halo?

Since starting at Halo, I’ve had to teach myself a new programming language. This keeps me in the habit of continuously educating myself. This helps keep our team well rounded and ensure we can handle any problem we may face. This helps keep all of our engineers well rounded and ensure we are well versed in multiple areas of the business. This will allow us to better select both languages and libraries that will help push Halo to be the leaders in industry.

Can you share a memorable experience or success story from your time at Halo?

My biggest achievement so far is the co-design and implantation of our state machine for the safety system, affectionately called Cerberus. It monitors and verifies the major operations of the vehicle are in working condition and ensures we have valid control of the vehicle at all times. The project took months but was well worth the time invested as we can now ensure the vehicle can only be driven while healthy and has the ability to bring itself to a controlled stop if any issues do arise. It is also designed in such a way to allow us to continuously upgrade its autonomous and teleoperated functionality.

What are some challenges you've faced in your role, and how have you overcome them?

Coming into Halo, one challenge I faced was the supporting of previous engineering decisions. Since our first generation was written in a language I was unfamiliar with, I had to teach myself a new language to ensure we could continue to provide support and updates while we worked on our new revamped generation that will be coming out soon. This also allowed us to get a deeper understanding of how things are meant to work and how we could improve on the previous generation.

What advice would you share with your younger self regarding your career? 


In retrospect, there are three lessons I’d share- 1. It’s okay to rely on senior engineers more often if it means you will gain a deeper understanding of the system. 2. Give yourself time to explore topics at a deeper level to ensure you can both bring a strong understanding of the task at hand and anticipate the needs or solutions your peers might want to implement. 3. Grasp the business needs to understand the “why’s” of what you’re doing. Oftentimes knowing the “why” to an engineering project can help you think through the problem at greater detail and help ensure greater success.  

What motivates you in your work?

The motivation to continue my work is expanding accessibility to the electric vehicle experience. Electric vehicles have better control in inclement weather, better built in safety features, are less prone to rolling over, and most importantly are more fun to drive. Increasing peoples experience with electric vehicles is huge win but doing so without increasing the need for a one to one charging station ratio is an even bigger win. This allows us to speed up the adoption of electric vehicles without an imminent need for radical change to our electric grid. Individuals who live in multi-unit buildings like myself often find it difficult to own an electric vehicle because of the lackluster charging infrastructure. Halo makes it more viable for me and anyone else in my building to ditch our current vehicles and transition to electric on an as needed basis. 

What advice would you give to someone considering a career at Halo?

We are constantly working with cutting edge technology, so you need to be ready to try and solve problems in different ways than you have previously. Given we are a smaller team it means every individual can have a larger impact on the overall product! That’s a cool experience that can’t be guaranteed at most places. So if you enjoy problem-solving like myself you will flourish here at Halo.

Outside of work, what are some of your hobbies and interests that help you unwind?

I’m a social person on both coasts. I enjoy spending time with family, friends and my coworkers. Depending on the season you can catch me watching hockey and football or at a concert on the weekends.