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View from a Visionary

  • Magazine Article
  • 19AVEP01_03
Published January 01, 2019 by SAE International in United States
  • English

Chris Urmson helped give birth to vehicle autonomy. His new company, Aurora, is leading the technology to maturity and widespread adoption.

“Over the last fifteen years of development on autonomous vehicles, if there is one figure who has been there, on the ground, getting his palms filthy with engine grease, breathing carbon monoxide exhaust and burning himself with electrical solder to solve each little problem as it comes up, it is Chris Urmson.”-from the 2018 book, Autonomy, by former GM R&D chief Lawrence Burns.

When a blueprint for “the 21st century mobility engineer” finally emerges-defined by expertise in computer engineering, robotics, and the ability to sling a mean soldering gun-Chris Urmson may well be its model. Fifteen years ago while a Ph.D candidate at Carnegie Mellon University, he assisted a NASA team test a robot for Mars exploration. Today he's CEO and co-founder of Aurora, a new company developing self-driving technology, and aiming to deliver its benefits safely, quickly, and broadly. As part of that Aurora is working with Volkswagen, Hyundai and Byton, the Chinese luxury self-driving-EV startup.