Anthony Levandowski is a big name in the “autonomous vehicle revolution,” but it’s a name that comes with some controversy. Levandowski has previously worked for Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, where he was on the team developing Waymo, which was Google’s self-driving car project. He then left Waymo to work on a self-driving vehicle project of his own called Otto, which he co-founded.
After his new self-driving project was bought by Uber and he was placed in charge of its development, a lawsuit was filed against Uber by Waymo alleging theft of trade secrets by Levandowski. He was eventually fired by Uber and the case was settled with Google being awarded a percentage of Uber’s business related to the self-driving technology.
Now Levandowski is on to another self-driving endeavor, this time attempting to bring the technology to the commercial trucking industry with his new company, Pronto AI, and their product called “CoPilot”. It basically acts as an assist feature more than fully autonomous driving, similar to what Tesla currently offers in some of its models. Both require a driver to be present at attentive at all times during operation.
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What Impact Will The CoPilot Program Have On The Trucking Industry?
According to the company website, CoPilot will improve safety in the industry, while reducing the carbon footprint of those trucks in which it is used. Levandowski believes strongly in the use of cameras and machine learning technology over mirrors and lasers as a safety feature for autonomous driving and driver assist, which is something that’s a primary feature of CoPilot. The product is being offered to companies in the transport and trucking industries at the cost of roughly $5,000 per truck.
Levandowski claims to have traveled across the U.S., some 3,000 miles, using the technology with a modified Prius. Though it’s not official, that trip would likely make him the first person to accomplish such a feat, adding another layer of intrigue to the entrepreneur’s influence in the self-driving vehicle sphere.
In his blog post detailing his new direction, Levandowski champions the use of predictive learning software to help navigate situations that prove difficult with other solutions such as Lidar and laser technology. His post also touches on two of his main criticisms leveled at the current state of autonomous vehicles: trying to jump right to fully autonomous vehicles too quickly, and being overly reliant on what he calls “crutch” technology.
Self-driving Vehicle Resources
DARPA Grand Challenge - An autonomous vehicle competition, the Grand Challenge is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to support the development of autonomous vehicle technology.
Self-driving Car News - A resource for the latest information about self-driving cars, regulations, technological developments, and new features being implemented by auto makers.