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Chris Urmson (Canadian Engineer) Bio, Facts. 

Born/Date of Birth: 9 June 1976
Place of Birth: Canada
Education: Carnegie Mellon University

Chris Urmson (born 9 June, 1976) is an entrepreneur and self-driving engineer from Canada. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aurora, a company founded in 2017 to deliver the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly, and broadly. Chris has been instrumental in pioneering and advancing the development of self-driving vehicles since the early 2000’s.

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. He was one of the original leaders of Google’s self-driving car project, which later spun off into Waymo in 2016.

Education and Early Career
Urmson earned his BSc in Computer Engineering from the University of Manitoba in 1998 and Ph.D. in Robotics from CMU in 2005; his thesis was entitled “Navigation Regimes for Off-Road Autonomy”. 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.

After his victory in the DARPA Urban Challenge, Urmson was approached by Google to lead their self-driving car project. 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.

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

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

Aurora
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. 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.

Under Urmson’s leadership, Aurora has raised nearly $700M through Series B financing, 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.

As of December 2019, Urmson leads a company of almost 400 employees with offices in Palo Alto, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Bozeman, Montana. 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. 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.

Honors

  • 1st place at the DARPA Urban Challenge (2007)
  • 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)
  • Went to TED talk on June 26 2015 and got to spread his ideas with others
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Categories: American chief executives,Google employees,American technology chief executives,American technology company founders,American computer scientists,Businesspeople in information technology,Businesspeople in software,Alphabet Inc. people,Waymo people,Carnegie Mellon University alumni

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