Waymo hires thirteen engineers from Anki, the former Anki director Boris Sofman, who heads the Alphabet unit's self-driving truck project, the company said Thursday. The news was first reported by Axios.
Anki was launched in 2013 with a smartphone-driven racing car set for toys, called Anki Drive. It has more than $ 200 million in venture capital financing and sold 1.5 million robot units. That included Cozmo, a Pixar-style toy robot with anthropomorphic functions that you could control, play games and even program. But earlier this year, the company ran out of money and went bankrupt.
Now the technical staff are moving from Anki to Waymo to work on self-driving trucks. That includes Anka & # 39; s previous perception lead Andrew Stein and behavior lead Brad Neuman, head of hardware Nathan Monson, and program manager Charlie Hite. The group consists of five PhD engineers, mostly from the renowned Robotics program at Carnegie Mellon University, and others from Stanford, MIT and Georgia Tech. Sofman, the former CEO of Anki, will report directly to Waymo CTO Dmitri Dolgov.
Welcome Boris and the team at Waymo. We have made a lot of progress in freight forwarding and look forward to your leadership and helping us to continue that effort! https://t.co/7Pa3WbsAiq
– John Krafcik (@johnkrafcik) June 27, 2019
Waymo operates a limited ride-dependent service outside of Phoenix, Arizona, but is also interested in applying its self-propelled technology to freight transport. The company's trucks have been tested in California in recent years and recently re-tested in Arizona after completing a test in March 2018 in Atlanta, where deliveries were made for the Google logistics team.
Waymo is also not the only company that uses self-driving trucks to transport cargo. Embarkation, TuSimple and Starsky are some of the more controversial startups that use autonomous trucks on public highways. Established OEMs such as Volvo and Daimler also race to develop commercial trucks that can drive themselves.