If anything has changed between today and the halcyon days of 2016, it’s that those building and marketing self-driving tech are now less ... promise-y.
The robots are still coming, the software developers and hardware mavens and balance-sheet-wielding CEOs insist. But more and more, they emphasize that this work is hard, the problems varied, the risks manifold, the regulations slow in coming. Even Waymo, the putative leader in the industry, flush with Alphabet funding—which plans to launch a commercial service this quarter—is having trouble teaching computers to be competent drivers.
Which is why the team at Ike would like to make the thing as easy as possible. “Our core features are descoping and focus,” says Nancy Sun, a cofounder and the startup’s chief engineer. Also, robot trucks.
The cofounders of Ike, which emerges from stealth today, have their share of experience trying to crack self-driving. CEO Alden Woodrow, CTO Jur van den Berg, and Sun have worked at most of the major AV players: Google, Apple, Otto, and Uber. But this time—after all fled Uber’s self-driving truck project, which shuttered this summer—they'd like to keep their project elementary. As elementary as a 15-ton computer that drives itself can be.
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