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Aurora deepens Uber relationship with autonomous freight partnership

Multiphase commercial pilot starts with hauling freight in Texas

Aurora Innovation is working with Uber Freight to integrate autonomous trucking into the digital freight network's operations. (Photo: Aurora Innovation)

Aurora Innovation is further integrating its autonomous trucking operation with Uber, working with Uber Freight to eventually integrate its Aurora Horizon into the digital freight brokerage’s network.

But first, Aurora is using about a dozen autonomous trucks with a safety driver to haul freight on the Uber Freight network in Texas, where it is currently conducting a drop-and-hook pilot with FedEx and Paccar Inc. along the trucking-dense Interstate 45 corridor from south of Dallas to Houston.

Last week, Aurora-powered trucks with a safety driver and a co-pilot on board began autonomously hauling drop-and-hook loads between hubs in Dallas and Houston, transferring the loads to Uber Freight carriers to handle the first and final mile with human drivers.  

Aurora incorporated Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group a year ago in exchange for Uber receiving a 26% stake in Aurora. Sponsored by special purpose acquisition company Reinvent Technology Partners Y, Aurora (NASDAQ: AUR) shares began public trading in November.


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Aurora plans to integrate its trucking product suite into Uber Freight’s network in the next couple of years as Aurora targets late 2023 to remove the driver from its autonomous trucks. Carriers with Aurora Horizon subscriptions will be able to make the most of Uber Freight — a logistics platform that connects shippers with one of the world’s largest digitally enabled carrier networks. 

Greater equipment utilization

Greater utilization of equipment is expected to result from driverless trucks, which will not be subject to hours of service regulations. 


Long-haul, full-truckload drivers spend an average of 6.5 hours every workday driving, even though federal safety regulations let them drive for 11 hours a day, David Correll, a research scientist at MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics, told the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee recently.

“This, of course, implies that 40% of America’s trucking capacity is left on the table every day. This is, of course, especially troubling during times of perceived shortage and crisis, like we find ourselves now,” Correll said, according to MarketWatch.

Aurora-powered trucks are expected to operate nearly around the clock, stopping only for fuel. 

When Aurora acquired Uber ATG in December 2020, it announced a strategic partnership to deploy Aurora-powered Toyota Sienna minivans on Uber’s ride-hailing network. 

“Over the next couple of years, we’ll collaborate with Uber Freight to identify how to best integrate the Aurora Cloud, our cloud-based infrastructure, with its network for seamless integration with Aurora Horizon,” Aurora said in a blog post.

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

 

Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.