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Chris Urmson is developing the brains for self-driving cars

Urmson is No. 98 on the Recode 100.

When Chris Urmson left his post as the chief technology officer of Alphabet’s self-driving arm in 2016, he had little idea what he was going to work on next. A few options were on the table, Urmson told Recode recently. In fact, he said he briefly flirted with the idea of possibly joining flying car companies.

“It seemed like a good time to step aside, and honestly, when I left, I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Urmson said. “It wasn’t like, ‘I’m out of here. I’m going to go make a self-driving car company’.”

But that’s exactly what he did. In late 2016, Urmson co-founded Aurora with Tesla’s former head of Autopilot, Sterling Anderson, and one of the founding members of Uber’s autonomous efforts, Drew Bagnell. The startup, which has been testing its cars in Mountain View, Calif., seeks to take on Urmson’s former employer in developing the brain for autonomous cars.

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