28 October 2016
The creator of Google’s self-driving car now competes with it. Under his new company Udacity Sebastian Thrun is developing his third autonomous vehicle. This time he is making the software available for everyone. “You could say that Google built the iPhone of self-driving cars and we are building Android,” says Thrun.
As a robotics professor at Stanford, Thrun won the Pentagon’s 2005 contest for self-driving vehicles that fired the starting gun in the race to commercialize the technology. He later established and led Google’s self-driving car project. Under Thrun the car racked up more autonomous miles than any competitor.
Sebastian Thrun’ open-source autonomous car, his third already, will come from his online education startup Udacity. The car itself is a Lincoln, sporting Udacity logos, cameras, and spinning lasers. It can already be seen driving around the Bay Area.
The software piloting this car will be given away free. Thrun is making it available in open-source form. The data collected by the car as it drives around is also being released for anyone to use. “Making that software available for everybody reduces the burden for any newcomer to build their own vehicle, very much like Android accelerated the development of smartphones.”
Udacity started its car project to accompany a new course on autonomous-car engineering starting in January. Students in the course will contribute code during the nine-month program, which costs $2,400. Ironically, Udacity’s project has backing from some of the very same companies Thrun hopes his car will put under new competitive pressure. This includes BMW, Mercedes, and Uber’s self-driving-truck division, Otto.
News tags: Google,