Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving car initiative, today announced that he is stepping down from his role at the company.
“After leading our cars through the human equivalent of 150 years of driving and helping our project make the leap from pure research to developing a product that we hope someday anyone will be able to use, I am ready for a fresh challenge,” he wrote in a Medium post.
Urmson said today will be his last day as chief technology officer for the program — the New York Times is more explicit, saying he’ll be leaving Google entirely — but he did not disclose what he’ll be doing next.
Apple is also believed to be working on a car project.
Urmson joined Google in 2009, before the company’s autonomous-driving project was public. The vehicles — Lexus RX450h sport-utility vehicles and Google’s own prototypes — have now driven more than 1.84 million miles in autonomous mode. Google has formed a partnership with Fiat Chrysler to build new cars that rely on Google’s autonomous technology. And late last year Google parent company Alphabet brought in a chief executive for the project, John Krafcik, although for years Urmson was the Googler that people associated with the cars.
“I have every confidence that the mission is in capable hands,” Urmson wrote.