Pittsburgh-based tech startup Aurora Innovation announced Friday (Jan. 5) that it will produce its self-driving haul trucks in the thousands by 2027 through its partnership with German auto parts manufacturer Continental.
Did the market get too far ahead of itself? | Smart Investing
Aurora’s autonomous technology, Aurora Driver, can operate vehicles ranging from a four-door sedan to a Class 8 semi truck. Right now, Aurora has about 30 autonomous haul trucks in operation on the road in Texas, a company spokesperson told Quartz, making 75 deliveries a week for customers such as FedEx and Uber Freight. But the trucks aren’t truly “driverless” yet: They’re accompanied by an operations specialist who can take over in the event of a failure. The company asserts that will change by the end of 2024, when Aurora plans to have 19 trucks (pdf) driving the 240-mile stretch from Houston to Dallas without any human passengers present to oversee their operations.
The company sells itself as a means to make US trucking more efficient, considering human drivers are capped at a daily 11-hour maximum by the US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. And its concrete plans to mass-produce its vehicles in three years comes just as the industry faces a widespread problem of low truck driver retention due to low take-home pay. If successful, Aurora would do what few autonomous trucking startups have managed to do thus far—operate at scale and turn a profit.
How Aurora’s driverless trucks expect to get cruising
Between 2024 and 2025, Continental will manufacture hardware for testing at its new facility in New Braunfels, Texas. Then it will begin scaling up production in 2025, with trucks ready to haul freight ready for delivery in 2027. While Continental will make the Aurora Driver hardware at scale, Aurora has partnerships with Volvo and PACCAR for the truck bodies.
The self-driving auto industry has been steering its way through plenty of scrutiny as of late. Last year, General Motors’ Cruise robotaxis caused accidents and traffic jams, which resulted in an investigation by US regulators. Two accidents involving Waymo self-driving semi-trucks caused by other human-driven trucks revealed gaps in how driverless vehicle crashes are reported to law enforcement, posing questions about how prepared regulators are to track such incidents. Asked about the safety of its own technology, an Aurora spokesperson pointed to its transparent and open communication with regulators. In November, Aurora CEO Chris Urmson testified before the US House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee about the safety of its technology. The company told Quartz it is also working with regulators in Texas and California.
Still, fears remain among the public about sharing a lane with driverless 18-wheelers. The majority of California voters in a recent survey (pdf) said they were uncomfortable with the idea of completely driverless haul trucks on the road with them.
Other players getting into the self-driving truck game
✅ Gatik: Unlike Aurora, this California-based autonomous truck company makes smaller, box trucks focused on short-term hauls. Gatik is set to operate at scale this year and recently launched a partnership with Kroger. It also has agreements with Walmart, Tyson Foods, and Loblaw in Canada.
✅ Kodiak Robotics: The driverless trucking tech company (and Aurora rival) secured a large deal with Loadsmith, a freight broker, in 2023. Loadsmith committed to buying 800 autonomous driving systems from Kodiak by the end of 2025.
⛔️ TuSimple: Once a leading company in the self-driving truck space, TuSimple laid off most of its US workforce and began shuttering its operations in the United States writ large at the end of 2023. Other companies such as Embark Trucks and Waymo Via have faced similar reversed course.
🚛 Details about other companies trying to make waves in the industry such as Torc, Plus, and Waabi can be found in this list compiled by Freight Waves.
>>> Read full article>>>
Copyright for syndicated content belongs to the linked Source : Quartz – https://qz.com/aurora-says-it-will-be-mass-producing-driverless-trucks-1851141440