Google’s chief technical officer for its self-driving unit, Chris Urmson, has quit the company.
After taking the summer off, Urmson suddenly announced his departure to his colleagues last Thursday.
“I am ready for a fresh challenge,” Urmson, said in post published on Medium the next day.
Urmson denies that his departure has to do with disagreements he had over the direction of Google’s self-driving division. According to the New York Times, though, Urmson was unhappy with the leadership of John Krafcik, formerly the head of Hyundai America, who was hired last year to be chief of the car project. The Times report also said that Urmson had argued with Google co-founder Larry Page over where the division was headed.
The Google car project is housed under the X division of the company. Google has plans to spin-off the self-driving unit into a separate business, as it expects a return on its substantial investment in developing autonomous technology by turning it into a profit-making enterprise. That business would create technology and products to sell to automakers or build its own cars.
Google’s car project has been plagued by a slate of departures. A group of engineers left the company earlier this year to form their own business – a start-up called Otto that will develop self-driving truck technology. Two other car engineers, Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu, also left the company recently to form their own start-up.