Sebastian Thrun is an innovator, entrepreneur, educator, and a computer scientist. He is the CEO of the Kitty Hawk Corporation, chairman and co-founder of Udacity. Before that, he was a Google VP and Fellow, a Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, and before that at Carnegie Mellon University. At Google, he founded Google X and Google’s self-driving car team. He is currently also an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University and at Georgia Tech.
Thrun led development of the robotic vehicle Stanley which won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge, and which has since been placed on exhibit in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. His team also developed a vehicle called Junior, which placed second at the DARPA Grand Challenge (2007). Thrun led the development of the Google self-driving car.
Sebastian Thrun is also known for his work on probabilistic algorithms for robotics with applications including robotic mapping. In recognition of his contributions, and at age 39, he was elected into the National Academy of Engineering and also into the Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in 2007. In 2011, he received the Max-Planck-Research Award, and the inaugural AAAI Ed Feigenbaum Prize. Fast Company selected Thrun as the fifth most creative person in the business world. The Guardian recognized him as one of 20 “fighters for internet freedom”.