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Autonomy: The Quest to Build the Driverless Car - Burns & Shulgan


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Book coming out soon about self-driving technology. There's an excerpt here:




Early in 2011, two top engineers for Google traveled together to Detroit on what amounted to a diplomatic mission. They had just spent 18 months on a top-secret project called Chauffeur: the development of a car that could drive itself over 10 different 100-mile routes on public roads. Now they were looking for a partner to carry the project forward. “The idea was, if you’re going to make self-driving cars, you have to work with a car company,” recalls Chris Urmson, who made the trip with fellow engineer Anthony Levandowski. “Maybe they’ll sell us cars to build a fleet. Maybe we’re going to be retrofitting our stuff onto their cars to sell.”


But they couldn’t find any takers. In meetings with a prime parts supplier to the car makers and then with the senior leadership of a major auto company, the pair gave presentations on their vehicle’s capabilities, the number of miles it had driven and the broad strokes of how their self-driving software saw the road. The reaction, they say, was utter disinterest—and dismay that they were experimenting on public roads rather than on a test track. “Self-driving technology didn’t make sense to them,” Mr. Urmson says. “And it seemed so far out of the playbook that it wasn’t even addressable.” As they headed back to the airport, Mr. Urmson said to his partner, “Well, I guess we’re not working with those guys.”


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