The PayPal Mafia of Self-Driving Cars Has Been at It a Decade

The brief history of the self-driving car is parked in Pittsburgh. Robotic vehicles built by students and professors stand sentry on the campus green at Carnegie Mellon University. These cars carry scars and dents—one shows rollover damage—from participation in a legendary series of competitions organized by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), a research and development wing of the U.S. military. Many of the engineers involved in those contests went on to launch autonomous vehicle startups that are now steering the future of transportation. 
The head of Aurora, a roboticist named Chris Urmson, was the assistant professor who led the Carnegie Mellon team behind “Boss,” the self-driving Chevy Tahoe that won the Darpa Urban Challenge in November 2007, exactly 10 years ago this week. He has come back to campus over an October weekend to reminisce with veterans of the Boss team, an anniversary-inspired reunion.