Wherever João-Vitor Zacchi moved, he brought his favorite books with him: “I love to be surrounded by my books: science fiction, history and philosophy, and special editions of some of the classics. They give me a feeling of home, as they remind me of my grandparents’ library.” Despite this love of literature, he always knew he wanted to become an engineer, so it was natural for him to start his studies in automation and control at Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in Florianopolis in Brazil. He was then offered a scholarship that allowed him to take a joint master´s degree in both electrical and control systems at ENSEEIHT in Toulouse, France. A big step, as he had to move to Europe and learn a new language in order to attend classes. But it was worth the effort: “It was a great learning environment. And I could specialize in informatics for critical systems!” In his master thesis, he developed software for the CNES, the French government space agency. That was when he finally decided that he wanted to dive deeper into the area of safety engineering.
A big step, as he had to move to Europe and learn a new language in order to attend classes. But it was worth the effort: “It was a great learning environment. And I could specialize in informatics for critical systems!” In his master thesis, he developed software for the CNES, the French government space agency. That was when he finally decided that he wanted to dive deeper into the area of safety engineering.
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Around this time, as luck would have it, a mentor of his sent him a link to the Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) program. This mentor recommended that João-Vitor apply for the “European Training Network for Safer Autonomous Systems” project, an initiative funded under the EU’s “Horizon 2020” innovation program. Once selected as members of the European Training Network for Safer Autonomous Systems, research fellows receive support during the early phase of their careers and can network with experts and other talented young researchers.
Business and research institutions hire these young scientists and support them, giving them the chance to exchange ideas and to try out practical applications for their solutions. It was an exciting opportunity for João-Vitor. After putting a lot of effort into his application, he was invited to the final interview in Belgium: “I was frightened before the interview: me alone in a room with about ten experts and professors! But in the end, it was a great conversation about topics I really care about!”
Once he got into the project, he knew he would need to move again. Being far from his home and family isn´t always easy: “I already had experience of living abroad, but you need to learn the specific conventions for social interaction in the country you live in. Brazil is different from the south of France and it is definitely different from Germany. But my parents raised me and my sister to explore the world, so I went out to explore!” In April 2019, the engineer moved to Munich and joined Fraunhofer IKS as a researcher with a focus on safe perception for autonomous driving. He likes Munich, as it doesn´t really feel like a big city, but it´s hard to find a decent place to live—especially when one owns lots of books that require storage: “I bought an e-reader some time ago, but I really prefer paper!”
Read more about the framework João-Vitor Zacchi has developed for hybrid perception in his article “Collaborative driving maneuvers as a success factor for autonomous driving”.