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April 16, 2012
Retired GM VP Larry Burns Assists
Google on ‘Driverless Car’ Project
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by Gerald Scott
 Dr. Larry Burns, retired GM vice president of Research, has the enviable habit of always being where the action is – automotively speaking.
 During his long career at GM, where he retired from in 2009, Burns was involved in the development of leading-edge vehicles like the GM EV1 and the Chevrolet Volt, as well as any number of proof-of-concept display vehicles.
 One project he worked on with GM led him in a roundabout way to Google, who he is consulting with on their ambitious driverless car project in California.
 Since leaving GM, today Burns is Professor, Engineering Practice, Industrial and Operations at the University of Michigan and this puts him still deeper into the heart of the greater auto industry.
 Burns was the keynote speaker at the recent Michigan Robotics Day festival held at the U-M North Campus and it was there that he discussed how GM and Google have much more in common than you might first think.
 “General Motors, when I was there, participated in the DARPA Urban Challenge, pretty exciting, probably the most exciting (motor)sporting event I ever attended,” Burns recalled.
 “We teamed with Carnegie Mellon University, but that wasn’t the message. The real message was that 85 teams entered the race, 35 cars passed the driver’s training test and 11 made it to race day.
 “It was held in Victorville, Calif. (at an abandoned air force base), GM and Carnegie Mellon were fortunate enough to win that race, while Volkswagen and Stanford came in second.
Dr. Larry Burns, retired GM VP of Research, gave the keynote talk at the Michigan Robotics Day festival in Ann Arbor last week. Burns, now a U-M engineering professor, is a consultant to Google’s driverless car project, which has logged 200,000 miles.
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