The former Technical Lead of Google’s autonomous car division, Anthony Levandowski, introduced “Otto” to the world yesterday. It’s a startup with the objective of making the world a better place by making big trucks drive themselves.
Levandowski is co-founding the company with former Product Lead of Google Maps Lior Ron. They’re supported by a little under 50 employees (counting seven dogs) which Tech Crunch tells us are from all over the brainiac petri dish of Palo Alto, as in Tesla, Apple, and HERE as well as “various automobile companies.”
They’re also in a mode of rapid-expansion, as evidenced by the 20-odd job openings Otto has listed on its site.
I imagine the company name is a nod to “Otto the autopilot.” (Don’t let that YouTube clip be all you see of Airplane!, by the way.)
Their own self-description makes it sound like they’re starting with an aftermarket camera rig to mount on trucks with the dream of building their own rigs someday:
“We are developing a suite of sensors, software and truck enhancements coming together in a product that can be quickly outfitted on existing trucks. Testing the technology is currently underway on highways with our research fleet, and we recently completed an autonomous demo of the technology on a public highway. We intend to enhance the capabilities of the Otto truck, collect safety data to demonstrate its benefits, and bring this technology to every corner of the U.S. highway system.”
Whether or not Otto will actually bring anything of significance to market remains to be seen; so far all the company has produced is this nifty b-roll and a post on Medium about how terrible and obsolete today’s trucking industry is.