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NewsTrucking

Aurora adds Class 8 autonomous testing in Texas (with video)

Autonomous driving system to be fitted on Peterbilt Heavy-duty truck

Aurora Innovation will start testing autonomous Class 8 trucks from Peterbilt Motors and Chrysler Pacifica minivans in Texas in the next few weeks.

Texas testing will focus on commercial routes used by major freight haulers, the self-driving startup said Monday.

Aurora Innovation will begin testing driverless Class 8 Peterbilt Motors trucks in Texas. (Video: Aurora Innovation via YouTube)

More than 10% of long-haul truck drivers in America drive in Texas. And freight moved there could nearly double in the next 25 years, Aurora said. 

Aurora also tests its vehicles in the San Francisco Bay area and Pittsburgh. It has raised $690 million in funding. Investors include Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp.

Investing for future payback

“Whether a vehicle is moving people or goods, an investment in foundational elements like world-class perception, localization, and motion planning can’t be sidestepped,” Aurora said in a blog post on Medium. The up-front investment in time and money is large, but the potential payback is huge.

Trucks moved nearly $792 billion in freight in 2019, according to the American Trucking Associations.

Aurora’s early focus on complex surface street driving helped it prepare for over-the-road trucking. Most see freight hauling as leading a driving transformation. Navistar International Corp. is targeting 2024 to sell a driverless truck.

The Lone Star State is becoming a locus for autonomous vehicle testing. Ford Motor Co. and self-driving startups Argo, TuSimple, and Alphabet’s Waymo all conduct testing there.

TuSimple is launching a Southwest U.S.-based logistics network for its highly automated trucks. Its partners include United Parcel Service, Penske and U.S. Xpress.

Fastest path to biggest impact

“We have always said we’d pick a path to market that allows us to make the biggest impact the fastest,” the blog post said. “While the [Aurora] Driver will ultimately move both people and goods, our first commercial product will be in trucking — where the market is largest today.”

Texas has more miles of public roads than any state.

“Texas understands that self-driving technology will have a critical safety impact for those who drive on its roads,” Aurora said. State regulations and pro-business policies make it ideal for working toward safer roads.

“As our development progresses, we’ll selectively pull loads with our partners as we better learn the operational nuances of commercial goods delivery,” the company said.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

Related stories:

TuSimple launches ‘5G network’ for autonomous trucking

Fiat Chrysler US to partner with Aurora Innovation

Aurora Innovation to acquire lidar company

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is a Detroit-based award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press, the Detroit Free Press and most recently as Detroit Bureau Chief for Trucks.com. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.

One Comment

  1. so grateful we are putting more regulations on the driver’s 🤔 it’s going to be shortly. The cost of using robots is going to be cheaper than humans. We’ve legislated ourselves out of work. Created a big enough problem were humans are to expensive mostly through lawsuits and insurance Big business will always cost cut and implement unproven equipment. The biggest casualty will be small market business. I could see it were robotic workers is encouraged through nuclear verdict insurance quotes. Lobbyists pushing safety.

    Were going to have to do more with less. Mb be wildcater. Or like the man himself ol CL Warner and just go customer direct running with no authority pulling your own product. The game changes but truckers never die!

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