Chris Urmson: Aurora CEO - Autonomous Driving


Hello and welcome to our first episode of behind. Find The tech in twenty twenty. I'm Christina Warren. Senior cloud advocate at Microsoft. And I'm Kevin Scott all right so Kevin. It is twenty twenty which Shh is both the new year and I guess a new decade although people will get weird technicalities and it's always a great Chance to kind of look back at what's happened over the last ten years and reflect on new opportunities. Yeah I mean I it. Is I think in their industry and for human beings in general really easy to get completely used to new innovations that in our lives. But like when you think back ten years ago the world looked like a very different place than it looks right now so smartphones were just catching on. They were nowhere near as ubiquitous as they are all right now and the things that you could do on them were far far more constrained than they are right. Now I mean for. For God's sake people were renting movies from blockbuster In two thousand ten right very blockbuster was actually still a thing and instagram hadn't even been invented yet. Coley different world you know I do now that we've hit twenty twenty. Do you have any forecasts about what the next year intact might bring her even the next decade. Well well I think one of the themes that we spent a bunch of time chatting about last year on the podcast was artificial intelligence machine learning and I think we are are certainly going to see the trends that that had started in the prior year's continue to accelerate as one of the reason why I'm really interested in chatting with our guest today So autonomous vehicles. For instance. I believe are going to make AK- ton of progress over the next couple of years in particular and I'm really looking forward to seeing some of that stuff. Play out yes I couldn't agree more. It's funny I don't have a driver's license But I've actually been on a few self driving car panels over the years and I I think the technology she behind it is so fascinating. Which is why? I'm really really excited about your conversation with today's guest. Chris Armstrong and Chris is an engineer. Who's known for his work in pioneering self driving car technology? Yeah and you know one of the reasons that I'm especially interested in self driving cars and I'm looking forward to this conversation that we're about to have Chris is that There's so many ways that the world is going to change for the good once we we are able to put this technology into the hands of lots of different companies so One of the things that will hear about Aurora's. They are a company building the self off driving car technology as a platform for other companies to use to build autonomous applications. And so you know one of the things that I'm sorta hopeful for that will come into the world in the not-too-distant future is some technologies. That may help my grandmother. So I'm I'm lucky enough to have a grandma that's still still alive. She's eighty nine years old and lives in a very rural place in Virginia And she can still drive which is awesome but the day is coming where she's not going to be able to To drive her car car in the same way that she is right now and Like then it begs the question of how she has access to all of the things that she needs in order to help her live and independent life. So how does she get her prescription medicines. Like how does she get her groceries and You know just just sort of the staple things that she needs to exist. And one of the things that I think could be really incredibly beneficial with these self driving thing. Technologies is Like the possibility that you'll be able to have autonomous deliveries for people like my grandmother. I think you're absolutely right. I think the potential for the stuff is really fantastic. So let's hear more about some of the potential for this technology from Chris Aronson Guest today is Chris. Samson Christie's the CO founder and CEO Vera accompanied the bill self driving vehicle technology before founding Aurora he was CTO. Google self driving car program prior to that. Chris was a faculty member of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University where he was the technical director of the Darpa urban and grand challenge teams. I'm really excited to hear what he's up to these days. Hey Chris the the show. Thanks for having me so I love to start by learning how you got interested in technology in the first place as a kid. Were you taking engineering classes or programming classes when you were in high school. So are you discover that in college back. When I was in high school there wasn't really computer science at high school And so I Bought Oughta some kind of Tandy x eighty six clone or whatever Back when I was in probably ninth or tenth grade from money for my paper route A- and you know tried to learn to program at first where you go you know you don't if you recall this but you go to the bookstore and you'd buy You know this paperback for Back Book. That was program whatever it was and it was just the source code listing and this before C. D. Roms even pete which people probably don't even remember that that's right we Before that actually bought a commodore sixty four and of course that was exciting. Because it didn't have tape drive right right or it didn't have a floppy drive floppy yeah and five and a quarter inch. Discs that's what had YEP YEP so anyway so we was doing that and then this language C. Plus plus which seemed to be the hot new thing And so started. Actually the first programs I really learned with C. Plus plus. Wow that's rough. Yeah yeah it was a little crazy. A I mean I guess on some some level like CPS was challenging lodging first language. But the good thing is after you've mastered as downhill it's all downhill And so did. Did you know from all of this experience in high school that you wanted to get a computer science and engineering. Gary you know up in Canada so apply to you you know variety of schools got into into a couple of them And then in my senior here I met a girl Turns out now. She's my wife. And decided I wanted to stay at the University of Manitoba which is right in central Canada and Manitoba and got into the computer engineering? School computer. Seem like you know they had a future.

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