His focus was on artificial intelligence, a field that failed in the 1980s with a rules-based approach because humans could never come up with all the rules a machine needed but then flourished in the mid-90s when machines had to learn the rules by themselves, by trial and error, almost like an infant. Enlarge Image Mr. Thrun left Germany in the mid-90s for Carnegie Mellon looking "for the lack of authority, unlike Germany" to build intelligent machines. This required a cross-discipline education including nursing, psychology, material science and whatever else was required to help machines learn about the real world. He eventually found his way to Stanford, leading the university team's entry in the 2005 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) Grand Challenge to create an autonomous vehicle that could navigate 132 miles through a desert.
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