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Countdown to Feature Complete

Aurora Driver | December 19, 2022 | 2 min. read

By The Aurora Team

Closing out 2022 with our fifth quarterly beta release of the Aurora Driver

As illustrated in our Aurora Horizon Product Roadmap, we committed to releasing three new capabilities in Q4 of 2022. Building on all of the capabilities contained in our previous beta releases, Aurora Driver Beta 5.0 includes important updates that will allow the Aurora Driver to safely handle some of the trickiest parts of highway driving.

Responding to active emergency vehicles

Detecting and appropriately responding to an emergency vehicle can be challenging—emergency vehicles come in all shapes and sizes (e.g., police cruisers, firetrucks, ambulances) and don’t always behave predictably or follow normal road rules. 

To teach the Aurora Driver to reliably recognize and appropriately handle encounters with emergency vehicles, we’ve exposed it to on-road data, virtual tests, and closed track tests. By converting real-world data of emergency vehicle interactions into simulations, we’ve generated thousands of variant training scenarios, and built confidence in the Aurora Driver’s ability to safely respond to emergency vehicles out on the road. 

Today, when the Aurora Driver encounters an active emergency vehicle while hauling commercial loads for our pilot customers, it will alert a remote assistant via Aurora Beacon for backup and, based upon feedback from the remote assistant, will activate hazards, change lanes, or pull over if necessary.

 

Returning from the shoulder

Anything can happen on the open road. For circumstances that require it, like a flat tire, a critical truck failure, or an extreme weather event, the Aurora Driver is designed to pull over to the side of the highway to await rescue or further instructions. 

In the event of a pull-over scenario, the Aurora Driver will use Aurora Beacon to get in touch with a remote assistant. Once any issues are resolved, the remote assistant will let the Aurora Driver know that it is cleared to begin driving again. 

But returning from the shoulder to the road, re-entering traffic, and getting back up to highway speed requires extreme vigilance and caution. With today’s Beta 5.0 release, the Aurora Driver can now wait for the right opportunity to carefully merge back onto the highway, taking into account the amount of time and space it will need to safely slot a semitruck between fast-moving vehicles. This new maneuver grants the Aurora Driver the ability to respond to and recover from unexpected events, and will allow us to maintain high levels of service availability for our customers.

 

Navigating lanes with temporary barriers

Building on previously released construction handling capabilities such as responding to lane closures, navigating lanes with new or ambiguous lines, and out-of-lane nudging, the Aurora Driver can now navigate lanes that are partially blocked by temporary construction barriers. This capability poses a unique challenge in that it may require the Aurora Driver to violate typical rules of the road—instead of just slightly nudging outside of its lane to avoid a cone or piece of debris, the Aurora Driver-powered vehicle must straddle the shoulder line for an extended period of time in order to maintain a safe distance from the barriers. 

As we’ve stated many times before, construction is one of the biggest challenges for an autonomous trucking service operating on Texas highways. The addition of this Beta 5.0 capability equips the Aurora Driver with the skills it needs to handle even more construction scenarios it may encounter on our launch lane while hauling commercial loads for our customers.

 T-minus 100 days to Feature Complete

In just three months, we plan to roll out our sixth Aurora Driver Beta release, at which time we also expect the Aurora Driver to be Feature Complete—meaning we will have implemented all of the capabilities necessary for commercial launch and removed all policy interventions. With this achievement, we will check off the first of the three major milestones on our Aurora Horizon Product Roadmap for commercial launch. We look forward to celebrating this important moment with you soon!

Learn more about Aurora Horizon

The Aurora Team

Delivering the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly, and broadly.