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Image credit: Reuters/Elijah Nouvelage

Chris Urmson leaves Google's self-driving car project

Former Hyundai exec John Krafcik took over as CEO last year.

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Reuters/Elijah Nouvelage

After seven and a half years working on self-driving car tech for Google/Alphabet, Chris Urmson announced his departure from the team in a blog post tonight. He took over as director after Google X founder Sebastian Thrun left in 2013, and led until Google hired former Hyundai exec John Krafcik as the CEO of its car division. The New York Times reports Urmson was unhappy with the recent direction of the project under Krafcik and had "quarreled" with Larry Page, however his post simply says he's "ready for a fresh challenge."

Autonomous driving tech has come a long way since the first time we saw the fruits of Google's labor, and a partnership with Chrysler indicates it has entered a much more practical phase of development. Urmson joined Google after working on self-driving tech at Carnegie Mellon to win DARPA challenges, and watched the project go from a goal of 100,000 miles self-driven to completing 1.8 million miles (with a few accidents, usually caused by human drivers). There's no indication on what's next, but he says "If I can find another project that turns into an obsession and becomes something more, I will consider myself twice lucky."

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