510 did many great things and got credit for nearly none of it. We barely had a website b/c big companies like Google, Microsoft and Nokia liked letting people think it was all them. Quite frankly, we were happy to take the money, but in hindsight, we should have aimed higher.
The article gives the impression that we only did hardware. That is not true. We did all the sensor integration and real-time systems software. We also sold our GPS filter to Google early on for Street View.
It was a scrappy place. We solved hard problems very quickly and big companies often resented us for it and reluctantly bought our wares. In return we were silent.
The employees were fantastic and the management was horrendous. We laughed a lot, we fought a lot and we drank a lot. The founders, like most 20 somethings who've achieved too much success too early, were amazing in many ways but deeply flawed. They did not realize that the Berkeley Robotics Lab did not prepare them to manage a real company. They could never see that they were the ones in the way of their own success. Since there were no VC's there was no board. I never again worked for a place where the CEO could not be fired. And I never worked for a founder who had too many life lessons in front of him.
Anyways, lessons learned: The value is in final products not in parts of products, people don't change on a startup's timeline and getting acquired is generally a letdown.
Onwards and upwards...
He's an impressive guy. I met him when he was going to Berkeley and doing the self-balancing motorcycle for the 2005 Grand Challenge. He'd already done a startup, with a specialized giant laptop for construction sites for people who needed to see blueprints.
The LIDAR Google uses is from Velodyne, which was "Team DAD" in the 2005 Grand Challenge. The first version of their LIDAR fell off their vehicle, but they improved the mechanics and produced that cone-shaped thing Google now uses. That's really a research tool; a different approach is needed for production vehicles. (I still like the Advanced Scientific Concepts flash LIDAR; it's expensive, but that's because it has custom silicon. If you had to get the price down, that's where to start. No moving parts, all electronics.)
I'm kind of disappointed with Google's self-driving effort on the hardware side. I'd expected flash LIDARs, terahertz phased array radars, and other advanced sensors by now. You need to be able to see in all directions, but the requirements to the sides and back are less than for looking ahead. The CMU/Cadillac effort is ahead on the hardware side; their self-driving car has all its sensors integrated into the vehicle so you don't notice them.
(I had an entry in the 2005 Grand Challenge: Team Overbot. Ours was too slow, and we worried about off-road capability too much.)
From the article: "From then on, we started doing a lot of work with Google," says Majusiak. "We did almost all of their hardware integration. They were just doing software."
Just software? Holy cow. The machine learning, control systems, mapping software, and all the other algorithms in a self-driving car are the really fundamental pieces. It's super important to get the hardware right, and 510 did a great job of that, but the software is the brain.
I was quite surprised by the parent comment because I had never heard of Musk being described as a founder. But then again I've lived in palo alto since before tesla was founded so the power struggle was minor gossip at the time (and was in the mercury news).
What has surprised me is that he is in fact listed as a founder on the wikipedia web site and in fact Tesla litigated over the matter.
Now the word "founder" is weird -- IME A round paperwork typically refers to any common shareholder at the time of venture investment as a "founder". And then there was that bizarre Facebook suit over who could refer to themselves as a company founder. Weird.
After reading the article on how primates use 'fame' in dominance games that made the rounds here I found that it identified that sort of behavior pretty precisely.
I bet if you were to poll people around the world, most people would assume Musk was a founder.
But someday I'd really like to see an open source version of a road capsule.
Mainly aimed taking existing cars and running them like trains on a track.
1) Stop when an obstacle is in front
2) Automatic follow the current lane, maintain a safe distance with car in-front and follow the speed limit.
3) Parse traffic lights and be able to make turns.
4) Wait for passenger to get in and out.
There's no reason why I can't take a short nap while I'm on a 100km straight road going cross country at night when there are almost no cars on the road.
I'm betting that someday in the future we're going to have lanes on road specifically for self driving buses/cars just like we have dedicated train lanes.
Lidars can be more effective than stereo cameras (although they have tradeoffs vs. stereo in some use cases).
“From then on, we started doing a lot of work with Google,” says Majusiak. “We did almost all of their hardware integration. They were just doing software. We’d get the cars and develop the controllers, and they’d take it from there.”
Anybody who has done robotics knows there is a lot of integration involved (hardware and software), and that doing integration is hard and tends to be thankless. It's nice to see some in-depth reporting in a major publication on the full depth of the engineering team.
So,who is Suzanna Musick?
I had no idea i was hellbanned(though I wont waste my time begging for an unbanning).
That's because you're not. You posted a couple of comments from an IP that was banned because of past abuses (apparently by others). We unbanned the UP and unkilled the two comments.
It's on our list to make the IP banning system better so that this happens less often. Having it happen at all is bad, obviously, but the measures available to counter abuse are often unsatisfactorily crude, and doing nothing is not an option.
Out of interest, I did look up the user and saw that he/she seemed not to have done anything that I felt deserving of any form of ban - how should I have communicated this back to you? Am I even encouraged to do so?
We intend to build ways for the community to regulate these things without going through us, but it's going to take a while to get there.
Self driving car technologies have has actively developed by almost every car company for years now. Many of the beginnings of this work has already made it to market e.g. Parallel Park Assist, Auto Emergency Breaking, Lane Merge Detection, Adaptive Cruise Control. And companies like Volvo are already testing their self driving cars in real world, difficult conditions in Sweden. And because there are only a few car conglomerates they will simply share technology within each group.
So what is their end game ?
1) To supply the data that the future robot cars will consume, and profit via license fees. The Google cars use data-heavy techniques with very good preexisting metric maps.
2) To speed up the development of technology that will save perhaps 20,000 lives a year in North America alone. Larry Page has enough power and Google enough money that they can do stuff with "because it's great" as a primary reason.
(I'm not affiliated with Google, but have pondered this question and asked around)
And Google isn't helping speed up the technology. Companies like Volvo are far ahead already.
Volvo is actually far behind -- their cars are designed for Level 3 Autonomous Driving, while Google cars are Level 4. Also, Google has far more miles in real-world city driving than Volvo.
Right now Google is furthest ahead in this space, arguably by years.
Can you back up that confident claim? Do you have data?
> Google isn't helping speed up the technology.
How do you arrive at that?
> But wouldn't it be better for Google to focus on doing data supply deals with the existing car companies ? Far less money, risk etc.
There was no one to sell data to. Google are the ones that started using it at large scales.
-PR & public visibility
-pushing legislation debate