2019 ALL STAR | MOBILITY
Chris Urmson has long been considered one of the most brilliant minds in the world of autonomous vehicles.
The CEO and co-founder of AV tech firm Aurora Innovation Inc. came to prominence as the technical lead for Google’s self-driving car project, now known as Waymo, from 2009 to 2016. Before that, he was a key leader of Carnegie Mellon University’s teams in the DARPA challenges, the government-sponsored competitions that helped kick-start the self-driving car movement.
At Aurora, founded in 2017, Urmson is building a safety-minded culture, one in which anyone has the authority to ground the self-driving fleet if there is a concern. “We have human lives in our hands, and that’s something we should never forget,” Urmson, 43, wrote in an October blog.
Aurora is led by a powerhouse team that also includes Tesla veteran Sterling Anderson and Uber Advanced Technologies Group alum Drew Bagnell. The startup got a big vote of confidence from the markets in February, raising $530 million from an investment group led by Sequoia Capital. Among the investors were Amazon and T. Rowe Price Group.
In June, Aurora entered into a partnership with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to work together to develop and deploy autonomous technology on commercial vehicles.