Auto Tech

Anthony Levandowski starts, claims to drive hands-free across the US

Pronto's first product is an add-on self-driving system for semi trucks called Copilot, which is due out next year.

Does the name Anthony Levandowski ring a bell? If you've been following the development of self-driving cars over the past year or so, it should. He was the central figure in the battle over stolen IP between Waymo and Uber, and now, according to a Medium post published on Tuesday, he's back.

He's started a new venture called which aims to push a highway-only self-driving system aimed at truckers. The system claims to use only cameras to work its magic, eschewing high-cost items like lidar sensors and HD maps.

In fact, he alleges to have installed the system into a Toyota Prius and driven across the country, entirely hands-free and with no disengagements. If that statement seems to leave the odor of bullshit clinging to your nostrils, you're not alone, but the video he posted to Pronto's Vimeo account seems to back it up -- even if the grumbly-old-man voiceover and piano soundtrack is deeply insufferable.

Pronto's actual product is called Copilot, and it claims to bring the kinds of advanced driver-assistance systems that we're now used to seeing on high-end luxury cars -- which we assume means adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, etc. though that isn't explicitly stated -- to Class 8 semi trucks.

Levandowski's Medium post is high on the kind of optimism that we've come to expect from self-driving vehicle startups and just as packed with evidence and proof-of-concept stuff, which is to very little. He plans on offering Pronto Copilot officially in 2019, so I guess we'll have a few months before we see how accurate his statements are.