With a new CEO who eschews the hype behind self-driving trucks, autonomous-truck startup Pronto says it plans to roll out its first commercial product to customers this year that will “add a safety layer to commercial trucks.”
Pronto has appointed Robbie Miller as CEO, as co-founder Anthony Levandowski has stepped down in the wake of his arrest for allegedly stealing secrets from a previous employer.
The move comes as Pronto prepares to launch a product it calls Copilot by Pronto, a highway safety system for commercial trucking, offering full adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and proactive lane centering.
Formerly Pronto’s chief safety officer, Miller has more than a decade of experience in leadership positions at Uber ATG, Otto, and Google self-driving cars.
“Over the past decade working in the AV industry, I’ve seen a focus on delivering hype to the detriment of safety,” Miller said in a press release, which touted the notion of "closing the curtain on safety theater."
“Until Pronto, I had not seen a program come close to delivering a product that makes the roads safer. Pronto is delivering real safety benefits built on world-class tech from a world-class team”
Miller will continue to work closely with Co-Founder and COO Ognen Stojanovski, as the company completes development of its first commercial product, Copilot, and rolls it out to customers this year.
Miller has long been an advocate for building autonomous vehicle programs that reduce the potential for harm to life and property, according to the Pronto announcement. On Dec. 10, 2018, Silicon Valley news site The Information posted a “whistleblower” email that Miller sent to Uber’s executive leadership, urging them to take corrective action inside their autonomous vehicle programs.
According to the Pronto release, Miller continues to be frustrated with an industry he sees as putting marketing milestones ahead of safety.
“The autonomous driving industry needs leaders willing to listen to the safety concerns of their engineers and operators. They need to create a space where these conversations are encouraged. They need to be constantly seeking out answers and when they come across problems, they need to stop what they are doing and fix them,” said Miller.
Pronto’s first product, Copilot, is a Level 2 autonomous driver assist system that enables commercial truck drivers to benefit from a safer and more comfortable experience. Copilot, which “eschews legacy hardware crutches like Lidar,” according to the company, is a camera- and software-based system that delivers collision avoidance and full-stop emergency braking, lane centering, and adaptive cruise control.
As the technology continues to mature, and drivers become more comfortable with it, Pronto plans to add additional features that will support the driving experience and add additional layers of safety.
Pronto is not the first to announce a Level 2 autonomous system for trucks; Freightliner unveiled such a system on its Cascadia earlier this year with its Detroit Assurance 5.0 system.