Anthony Levandowski in 2011
March 15, 1980
|Occupation||Co-founder of Otto|
Anthony Levandowski (born March 15, 1980) is an American self-driving car engineer. In 2016 he co-founded Otto, an autonomous trucking company, with Lior Ron, Claire Delaunay and Don Burnette. Prior to Otto, he built the Google self-driving car while working as a co-founder and technical lead on the project, known as Waymo. He is known for his work in the advancement of self-driving technology.
On May 15, 2017, United States District Judge banned Levandowski from further work on Otto's Lidar technology on the basis of having breached the confidentiality of former employer Waymo. On May 30th, 2017, Uber fired Levandowski for failing to cooperate with investigators.
In 1998, Levandowski entered the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research. As a freshman, he launched an intranet service from his basement. In 2004 he and fellow UC Berkeley engineers built an autonomous motorcycle, nicknamed Ghostrider, for the DARPA Grand Challenge. The Ghostrider motorcycle competed in the DARPA Grand Challenge in 2004 and 2005 and was the only autonomous two-wheeled vehicle in the competition. The motorcycle now resides in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
In 2007 Levandowski joined Google to work on Google Street View with Sebastian Thrun, whom he had met at the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge. While still working at Google he founded 510 Systems, a mobile mapping start-up that experimented with Lidar technology. Then in 2008 he founded Anthony's Robots to build a self-driving Toyota Prius called the "Pribot." According to The Guardian, it was "a self-driving Toyota Prius with one of the first spinning Lidar laser ranging units, and the first ever to drive on public roads."
Levandowski worked on Google's self-driving car until January, 2016 when he left to found Otto, a company that makes self-driving kits to retrofit big rig trucks. Quoted in The New York Times, Levandowski said he left Google because he "was eager to commercialize a self-driving vehicle as quickly as possible". Otto launched in May, 2016 and was acquired by Uber in late July, 2016. As part of the acquisition Levandowski assumed leadership of Uber's driverless car operation in addition to his work at Otto.
In September 2017, Wired magazine reported that Levandowski had established a religious organisation called 'Way of the Future' to “develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence.”
In July 2018, it was reported that Levandowski started a new self-driving car company named Kache.ai.
According to a February 2017 lawsuit filed by Waymo, the autonomous vehicle research subsidiary of Alphabet Inc, Levandowski allegedly "downloaded 9.7 GB of Waymo’s highly confidential files and trade secrets, including blueprints, design files and testing documentation" before resigning to found Otto.
In March 2017, United States District Judge William Haskell Alsup, referred the case to federal prosecutors after Levandowski exercised his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. In May 2017, Judge Alsup ordered Levandowski to refrain from working on Otto's Lidar and required Uber to disclose its discussions on the technology. Levandowski was later fired by Uber for failing to cooperate in an internal investigation.
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