Senior Firmware Engineer



Software Engineering
Alameda, CA, USA
Posted on Tuesday, April 30, 2024

About Us

At Saildrone, we sustainably explore, map, and monitor the oceans to understand, protect, and preserve our world. We provide real-time access to critical data from any ocean on earth, 24/7/365, and use proprietary software applications to transform that data into actionable insights and intelligence. Our fleet of uncrewed surface vehicles (USVs), powered by renewable wind and solar power, have a minimal carbon footprint and operate without the need for a crewed support vessel. Saildrone works with governments, civil agencies, foundations, universities, and private companies around the globe to drive better information about our oceans and seas—from sailing into the eye of a category 4 hurricane to obtain new data about how storms intensify, collecting new CO2 data in hard-to-reach areas, and counting fish biomass to inform sustainable fishery management, to mapping the ocean floor and reducing illegal fishing and drug trafficking. As a result of our work, Saildrone has been included on Fast Company’s annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies, earned an Ocean Awards’ Innovation Award, won Best Tech For Good from the Timmy Awards, and was recognized by Andreessen Horowitz’s American Dynamism 50 list of the Top 50 Companies Kickstarting American Renewal. Our first-annual Atlantic hurricane mission with NOAA was included as one of The New York Times’ 21 Things That Happened for the First Time in 2021 and Popular Science's 100 Greatest Innovations of 2021.

We are based in Alameda, CA, with offices in Washington DC and St. Petersburg, FL, and operate our missions worldwide. Saildrone is backed by top-tier investors in the frontier tech and sustainability sectors, including Social Capital, Capricorn, Lux Capital, BOND Capital, and Emerson Collective.

This is an exciting opportunity with a fast-growing team at the cutting-edge intersection of big data services and autonomous hardware. You will be an integral part of a high-performing multi-disciplinary delivering high impact for humanity and future generations.

The Role

We are seeking a firmware engineer to write processor support and application software for embedded devices. You will add new features to existing hardware and bring up new hardware, working closely with the hardware design engineers. Your customers will primarily be vehicle software engineers and vehicle operators. There is an existing codebase of chip support infrastructure that we are planning to deprecate, so this is a good time to join to have a lot of impact on a brand-new distributed system design. Our embedded software is written in C and C++, and it communicates over many types of channels using a wide array of protocols. This is a fairly hands-on position; you will be expected to handle electronics and its supporting equipment as you do bring-up and integration, as well as leverage basic skills with oscilloscopes and logic analyzers.

What you'll do

  • Receive brand-new hardware and write the firmware to bring it to life.
  • Add new capabilities to and fix bugs impacting existing hardware.
  • Design and develop offboard software infrastructure for deploying and testing hardware.
  • Design and develop onboard software architecture and infrastructure and apply it to multiple instances of hardware.
  • Support, manage, and enhance firmware on various 3rd party devices

Required skills and experience

  • 5-8 years of experience in firmware
  • Understanding of how to set up and debug toolchains, how to manage memory and storage in constrained environments, and bare-metal boot sequences
  • Operational skill in C, C++, and Python
  • Familiar with a variety of serial hardware interfaces (UART, SPI, I2C, etc.)
  • Knowledge of software processes to produce sustainable and maintainable code
  • Good verbal and written communication skills
  • Hobbyist-level electrical engineering test equipment operational skill
  • BS in engineering (or equivalent experience)

Desired skills and experience

  • Experience with Simulink/MatLab and control logic
  • Experience with firmware for control of diesel engines
  • Familiar with a low level RTOS such as FreeRTOS
  • Familiar with CAN protocols
  • Experience with device driver or kernel development
  • A basic understanding of schematics and how they relate to firmware implementations

Physical Requirements

  • Work is performed on a computer and requires ability to operate a keyboard and other peripheral devices. Handling of electronics and other supporting equipment.

Location: This position is hybrid in Alameda, CA (3 days onsite minimum). Our waterfront office offers beautiful views of San Francisco Bay in always sunny Alameda. Even our walls have good karma, our offices mix software development with a hardware production line in the former airplane hangar used to film 'The Matrix'.


  • Medical, dental and vision plans for you and your dependents.
  • Short and relaxing ferry ride from the Ferry Building for SF residents
  • Enhanced Parental Leave Programs
  • Competitive benefits including excellent medical, life insurance, 401k plan

A reasonable estimate of the current range is $132,200 - $172,200 annually.

Catch up on the latest news about us:

The Tiny Craft Mapping Superstorms at Sea – The New York Times
An Underwater Mountain was Newly Discovered off California Coast – San Francisco Chronicle
Hacking the Anthropocene with Survivalist Robots [VIDEO] – Freethink
An Unprecedented View Inside a Hurricane – EOS
Saildrone’s First Aluminum Surveyor Autonomous Vessel Splashes Down for Navy Testing – TechCrunch
USVs Could Deter IUU Fishing – USNI Proceedings
Saildrone Vehicles Track Whales around Offshore Wind Power – Workboat
Mullen, Former Joint Chiefs Chairman, to Lead Board for Unmanned Tech Firm Saildrone – Breaking Defense
The Navy Is Using Robot Ships to Deter Human Smuggling out of Haiti – Defense One
Saildrone's Quiet Voyage: Autonomous Vehicle Aids Great Lakes Fish Stock Study – Up North Live
Saildrone Featured Videos Playlist

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status, or disability status.

At Saildrone, we value diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive workplace that welcomes people from all backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. We believe that a diverse and inclusive team leads to innovation and better problem-solving. We encourage applications from candidates of all genders, ethnicities, races, sexual orientations, disabilities, and backgrounds.

Individual compensation packages are based on geographic location, scope of the role, relevant experience, and the ability to deal with complexity and problem solve within our organization, among other factors.

All employees are required to provide proof of authorization to work in the U.S. within their first 3 days of work. Please note that the Company does not sponsor employees for work visas or permanent resident cards to work in the U.S. If you need sponsorship for a work visa or green card, you will not be qualified for employment with Saildrone.

Any unsolicited resumes/candidate profiles submitted through our website or to personal email accounts of employees of Saildrone are considered property of Saildrone and are not subject to payment of agency fees.