Key quotes from Levandowski’s Medium post.
On Level 4 and 5 autonomy:
…the reason why nobody has achieved this level of functionality is because today’s software is not good enough to predict the future. It’s still nowhere close to matching the instincts of human drivers, which is the single most important factor in road safety.”
…traditional self-driving stacks attempt to compensate for their software’s predictive shortcomings through increasingly complex hardware. Lidar and HD maps provide amazing sensing and localization of the present moment but this precision comes at great cost (with respect to safety, scalability and robustness) while yielding limited gains in predictive ability.
Overall assessment of the industry:
Put simply, the self-driving industry has gotten two key things wrong: it’s been focused on achieving the dream of fully-autonomous driving straight from manual vehicle operation, and it has chased this false dream with crutch technologies.
On Pronto AI’s approach:
Over the past three years, amazing gains in machine learning and a new breed of tensor processing hardware have made it possible to pursue a different, ultimately much more promising, path toward solving the self-driving challenge. That’s what my new company — Pronto — is all about.
…Our approach? Much better software. After all, the best and safest drivers don’t necessarily have the best eyes. They have the best brains and the most experience. We are building neural networks from the ground up that combine experience-based AI, end-to-end deep learning, and crowdsourced data with advanced computer vision to deliver a highly scalable and flexible driving stack. Nobody else is doing this.
We are not building technology that tells vehicles how to drive. Instead, our team of engineers is building tech that can learn how to drive the way people do.
Our tech does not shy away from the rich complexities of real-world driving. Through better prediction and decision-making software, we are able to navigate previously vexing “edge cases,” such as very low light, direct sunlight glare, heavy rain, snow, construction zones, etc. in a safe, scalable, and repeatable manner on a wide variety of highways without mapping them.”
On Pronto AI’s first product, Copilot:
The first step is to deliver a commercially-viable ADAS product that makes driving safer for everyone. It augments the driving experience by reducing the cognitive workload for drivers, allowing them to focus their full attention on monitoring the road ahead. The market that we believe makes the most sense to engage first is the commercial trucking industry…