The infamous engineer Anthony Lewandowski, who worked at Uber and Waymo, launched a new project. His company, Pronto.ai, is developing a semi-autonomous truck driver assistance system. To advance the new project, Lewandowski told The Guardian that he drove an unmanned vehicle 3099 miles (4.9 thousand kilometers).
Lewandowski claims to have traveled from San Francisco to New York on a modified Toyota Prius and took control only for planned rest stops. The journey took four days. He noted that he was able to complete the route only on the third attempt.
Lewandowski posted a video that shows part of the trip. The Guardian could not find other confirmation of his words, but the publication notes that if Lewandowski is telling the truth, then this is the longest trip in autonomous transport without human intervention.
Pronto.ai is developing an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) for truckers. The complex, called Co-Pilot, includes seven cameras, including one in the cabin, and two neural networks: one for data processing, the second for driving. The system is capable of driving a truck along the highway without the participation of a driver, bypassing other cars and obstacles on the road, controlling speed and cruise control. Co-Pilot will also monitor the driver so that he is not distracted while driving. Similar technology in their machines uses Tesla.
Lewandowski emphasized that technology will not provide complete autonomy. “The era of autonomous cars that can cross the country on their own is still far away,” he concluded.
Pronto.ai plans to start selling the Co-Pilot complex in the first half of 2019. The complex, its installation and driver training will cost $ 5,000 per truck.
Anthony Lewandowski is a controversial figure in the development of autonomous cars. He stood at the origins of creating unmanned vehicles at Google, and then continued to work on this direction at Uber. In 2017, Waymo (a division of Alphabet, Google’s parent holding) accused Lewandowski of stealing confidential documents, which, according to the company, he used to create the startup Otto, which Lewandowski sold to Uber in 2016.
In early 2018, companies resolved the conflict: Uber pledged to give away 0.34% of its shares (worth about $ 245 million) and not to use Waymo’s confidential data received from Lewandowski. The engineer was fired. In an interview with The Guardian correspondent, Lewandowski said he did not focus on the past.
In the end, facts and reality are important. In my opinion, we managed to reach the monumental stage in unmanned driving. I am very proud of this.