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Former Google engineer, once barred from autonomous-driving industry, says he just completed first cross-country self-driving car trip

Key Points
  • Anthony Levandowski is launching a new autonomous driving start-up, Pronto.ai.
  • Levandowski told The Guardian he didn't touch the steering wheel or pedals — except for periodic rest stops — for the full 3,099 miles.
  • It would be quite a milestone for autonomous driving, and potential comeback for the engineer, who was at the center of a legal battle between Alphabet's Waymo and Uber.
Anthony Levandowski, Otto Co-founder and VP of Engineering at Uber.
Angela Merendino | AFP | Getty Images

Anthony Levandowski, the engineer at the center of a now-settled lawsuit between Alphabet self-driving car company Waymo and Uber, claims he has completed a trip across the country in a self-driving car.

Levandowski is launching a new autonomous driving start-up, Pronto.ai, according to The Guardian, and is touting the impressive feat as the company's first success.

"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," Levandowski said in a Medium post. "Our new approach has already enabled us to make great progress. We drove a vehicle coast-to-coast without any human intervention."

Levandowski told the Guardian he didn't touch the steering wheel or pedals — except for periodic rest stops — for the full 3,099 miles. He posted a video that shows a portion of the drive, though it's hard to fact-check the full journey.

It would be quite the milestone for autonomous driving, and a potential comeback for the engineer, who was one of the pioneers of Google's self-driving car efforts (before they were rebranded as Waymo), and later defected to Uber. The companies got into a legal battle over confidential documents that Levandowski allegedly took with him, and he was briefly barred from the autonomous driving industry during the trial. The companies settled the case early this year.

The technology isn't "perfectly autonomous," Levandowski said. And, he added, "The age of autonomous vehicles crisscrossing the country by themselves is still quite a ways off."

Pronto is rolling out it first product next year.

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