Chris Urmson

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Chris Urmson
Chris Urmson (2019).jpg
EducationUniversity of Manitoba (BSc)
Carnegie Mellon University (PhD)
OccupationCEO of Aurora
Known forSelf-driving car technology

Chris Urmson is a Canadian engineer, academic, and entrepreneur known for his work on self-driving car technology. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aurora, a company founded in 2017 to develop self-driving technology.[1] Urmson has been instrumental in pioneering and advancing the development of self-driving vehicles since the early 2000s.[2]

While earning his PhD in Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, Urmson's technical leadership was critical in the development of his team's robotic vehicles that participated in the DARPA Grand Challenges in 2004 and 2005 and the Urban Challenge in 2007.[3] He was one of the original leaders of Google's self-driving car project, which later spun off into Waymo in 2016.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Urmson was born in Canada in 1976, the son of emigrants from England. Urmson's father worked for the Correctional Service of Canada and eventually served as the warden of the Kent Institution. As a child, Urmson lived in Trenton, Ontario; Victoria, British Columbia; and Winnipeg before settling in Saskatoon.[5]

Urmson earned his BSc in computer engineering from the University of Manitoba in 1998 and Ph.D. in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University in 2005. His thesis was entitled "Navigation Regimes for Off-Road Autonomy".[6]

Career[edit]

Academics[edit]

Urmson became a faculty member of the Robotics Institute at CMU and his research concentrated on motion planning and perception for robotic vehicles.

He also served as the technical director of the DARPA Urban and Grand Challenge teams. Urmson and the CMU Tartan "Red" Racing team developed a robotic vehicle called Sandstorm, a converted Humvee, which went the furthest distance in the DARPA Grand Challenge in 2004 (however, no winner was declared that year). With Sandstorm and H1ghlander, a modified Hummer H1, CMU placed second and third in the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge. In the DARPA Urban Challenge in 2007, his team developed a vehicle called Boss, a Chevy Tahoe, which won the competition.[7]

Google[edit]

After his victory in the DARPA Urban Challenge, Urmson was approached by Google to lead their self-driving car project.[8][9][10] Urmson led Google's self-driving car project for nearly eight years. Under his leadership, Google vehicles accumulated 1.8 million miles of test driving. Urmson left Google in 2016.[11][12]

Urmson served as the CTO of X, Google's self-driving car team, joining in 2009 and taking over from Sebastian Thrun as project lead in 2013.[13] He was main engineer who built the code running Google's autonomous software.[14] Urmson left the company in 2016.[15]

Aurora[edit]

Urmson founded Aurora Innovation with Sterling Anderson, the former director of Tesla Autopilot and Drew Bagnell, Uber's former autonomy and perception lead.[16][17] Aurora is a startup dedicated to driverless car software, data and hardware, though not the cars themselves.[18][14] With Aurora, Urmson aims to apply machine learning to the motion planning and perception components of autonomy simultaneously.[19]

In 2017, Urmson, along with Sterling Anderson, Tesla's former head of Autopilot, and Drew Bagnell, a founding member and head of Uber's autonomy and perception team, co-founded Aurora.[20][21] Backed by Amazon and Sequoia, among others, the company is building the Aurora Driver, a platform that brings together software, hardware, and data services to fully operate any passenger or commercial vehicle.[22]

The Aurora Driver enables vehicles powered by it to move safely and efficiently through the world. It consists of the sensors that perceive the world, the software that plans a safe path through it, and the computer that powers and integrates them both with the vehicle.[23]

Under Urmson's leadership, Aurora has raised nearly $700M through Series B financing,[24] partnered with leading transportation companies, including Fiat Chrysler and Hyundai/Kia Motors, and strategically acquired Blackmore, a cutting-edge company specializing in Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) lidar.[25]

As of December 2019, Urmson leads a company of almost 400 employees with offices in Palo Alto, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Bozeman, Montana.[26] Urmson and Aurora are focused on creating a transportation ecosystem around the Aurora Driver by partnering with automakers, logistics services, mobility services, and fleet management providers.[27] The Aurora Driver itself is composed of sensors that perceive the world, software that plans a safe path through it, and a computer that powers and integrates them both with the vehicle.[28]

In December 2020, it was announced that Uber had invested $400 million dollars in Aurora, which would take over Uber's self-driving vehicle project. While Uber had initially attempted to develop self-driving taxis to replace drivers, Aurora will shift to developing a self-driving semi-truck.[29]

Honors[edit]

  • 1st place at the DARPA Urban Challenge (2007) [30]
  • Science Applications International Corporation RDT&E Technology Award (2005)
  • 2nd and 3rd place at the DARPA Urban Challenge (2005)
  • Robotics Institute Graduate Fellowship (1998-2005)
  • Siebel Scholar (class of 2005)
  • Boeing Red Phantom Award (2004)
  • TED talk on June 26, 2015

Journal publications[edit]

  1. Obstacle Detection and Tracking for the Urban Challenge M. Darms, P Rybski, C. Baker, C. Urmson Under review for the IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems.[31]
  2. Autonomous Driving in Urban Environments: Boss and the Urban Challenge C. Urmson, J. Anhalt, D. Bagnell, C. Baker, R. Bittner, M. Clark, J. Dolan, D. Duggins, D. Ferguson, T. Galatali, C. Geyer, M. Gittleman, S. Harbaugh, M. Hebert, T. Howard, A. Kelly, N. Miller, M.McNaughton, K. Peterson, M. Likhachev, R. Rajkumar, P. Rybski, B. Salesky, Y. Seo, S. Singh, J. Snider, A. Stentz, W. Whittaker, Z. Wolkowicki, J. Ziglar, H. Bae, T. Brown, D. Demitrish, B. Litkouhi, J. Nickolaou, V. Sadekar, W. Zhang J. Struble, M. Taylor, M. Darms Under review for the Journal of Field Robotics.[32]
  3. A Robust Approach to High-Speed Navigation for Unrehearsed Desert Terrain C. Urmson, J. Anhalt, D. Bartz, M. Clark, T. Galatali, A. Gutierrez, S. Harbaugh, J. Johnston, H. Kato, P. Koon, W. Messner, N. Miller, A. Mosher, K. Peterson, C. Ragusa, D. Ray, B. Smith, J. Snider, S. Spiker, J. Struble, J. Ziglar, W. Whittaker Journal of Field Robotics, Vol. 23, No. 8, August, 2006, pp. 467-508.
  4. Sun-Synchronous Robot Exploration: Technical Description and Field Experimentation Christopher Urmson 5 of 7 D. Wettergreen, P. Tompkins, C. Urmson, M. Wagner, W. Whittaker The International Journal of Robotics Research, Vol. 24, No. 1, January, 2005, pp. 3-30.[33]
  5. Robotic Assembly of Space Solar-Power Facilities W. Whittaker, P Staritz, R. Ambrose, B. Kennedy, S. Fredrickson, J. Parrish, C. Urmson The Journal of Aerospace Engineering, Volume 14, Issue 2, April 2001, pp. 59-64.

Films[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Aurora Is The Secretive Startup From the Best Minds in Self-Driving Cars". Fortune. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  2. ^ Mui, Chunka. "Chris Urmson Reflects On Challenges, No-Win Scenarios And Timing Of Driverless Cars". Forbes. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  3. ^ "Carnegie Mellon Robotized SUV Wins DARPA Urban Challenge". ScienceDaily. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  4. ^ Madrigal, Alexis C. (2018-03-29). "The Man With the Most Valuable Work Experience in the World". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  5. ^ "How the Canadian character is shaping the future of self-driving cars". Retrieved 2020-12-08.
  6. ^ "Christopher Urmson". The Robotics Institute Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved 2020-12-08.
  7. ^ "Carnegie Mellon Robotized SUV Wins DARPA Urban Challenge". ScienceDaily. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  8. ^ Mui, Chunka. "Chris Urmson Reflects On Challenges, No-Win Scenarios And Timing Of Driverless Cars". Forbes. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  9. ^ "How Autonomous Vehicles Could Give Car Designs an Upgrade". www.govtech.com. 25 August 2017. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  10. ^ Metz, Cade (2018-01-04). "Competing With the Giants in Race to Build Self-Driving Cars". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  11. ^ "Google Self-Driving Car Research Head Chris Urmson Leaves". Bloomberg.com. 2016-08-05. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  12. ^ Madrigal, Alexis C. (2018-03-29). "The Man With the Most Valuable Work Experience in the World". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  13. ^ Kelly, Heather (5 August 2016). "Google loses lead self-driving car engineer Chris Urmson". money.cnn.com. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  14. ^ a b Swisher, Kara; Bhuiyan, Johana (10 December 2016). "Google's former car guru Chris Urmson is working on his own self-driving company". recode.net. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  15. ^ Waters, Richard. "Chris Urmson quits Google driverless car project". ft.com. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  16. ^ Muoio, Danielle. "Tesla's former Autopilot head is launching a self-driving-car company — and it could have a big advantage". businessinsider.com. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  17. ^ Korosec, Kirsten (1 February 2018). "Open The Pod Bay Doors". Fortune (mailed print edition): 21. ISSN 0015-8259.
  18. ^ Edelstein, Stephen. "Mysterious Startup Aurora Innovation Granted Self-Driving-Car Test Permit in California". thedrive.com. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  19. ^ Madrigal, Alexis C. (2018-03-29). "The Man With the Most Valuable Work Experience in the World". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  20. ^ Bhuiyan, Johana (2017-12-06). "Chris Urmson is developing the brains for self-driving cars". Vox. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  21. ^ "Meet Aurora, the Ambitious (and Spunky) Self-Driving Car Startup". Fortune. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  22. ^ Loizos, Connie (February 10, 2019). "Aurora co-founder and CEO Chris Urmson on the company's new investor, Amazon, and much more". TechCrunch.
  23. ^ aurora.tech https://aurora.tech/. Retrieved 2020-01-13. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  24. ^ Knapp, Alex. "Aurora CEO Chris Urmson Says There'll Be Hundreds Of Self-Driving Cars On The Road In Five Years". Forbes. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  25. ^ Korosec, Kirsten (May 23, 2019). "Fresh off a $530M round, Aurora acquires lidar startup Blackmore". TechCrunch.
  26. ^ Bastone, Nick. "The CEO of $2.5 billion Aurora doesn't allow meetings for the first 3 hours of the day. Here's why he's betting on focus to win in a crowded self-driving car race". Business Insider. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  27. ^ "Powering the Next Revolution in Transportation". Velodyne Lidar. 2019-08-16. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  28. ^ "Aurora prizes independence in AV world". Automotive News. 2019-06-17. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  29. ^ Metz, Cade; Conger, Kate (2020-12-07). "Uber, After Years of Trying, Is Handing Off Its Self-Driving Car Project". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-12-07.
  30. ^ "Nov. 4: Carnegie Mellon Tartan Racing Wins $2 Million DARPA Urban Challenge - Carnegie Mellon University | CMU". www.cmu.edu. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  31. ^ Krause, Alex. "Obstacle Detection and Tracking for the Urban Challenge". The Robotics Institute Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved 2020-01-08.
  32. ^ Krause, Alex. "Autonomous driving in urban environments: Boss and the Urban Challenge". The Robotics Institute Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved 2020-01-08.
  33. ^ Krause, Alex. "Sun-Synchronous Robotic Exploration: Technical Description and Field Experimentation". The Robotics Institute Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved 2020-01-08.

External links[edit]