Developing the Aurora Driver to move millions of goods a day
Aurora Horizon | May 19, 2021 | 2 min. read
Before the pandemic accelerated the shift to buying goods online, trucks were already moving nearly 12 billion tons of freight a year. Trucking is the backbone of the American economy, and we’re building the Aurora Driver to make the industry safer, faster, more reliable, and more efficient. Today, it takes almost three days for a truck to deliver goods from Dallas to Los Angeles. When it’s deployed on this route, we expect the Aurora Driver to make the 1500-mile trip in less than 24 hours.
Over the past several years, we’ve laid the foundation to deliver the Aurora Driver by building partnerships with truck manufacturers and making rapid progress on our next-generation technology. Now, we’re expanding deployment with shippers and carriers as we refine our Driver and fit its operations to their needs. Over the next year, expect to see more autonomous trucks with the Aurora Driver on Texas roads as we engage with key logistics companies in commercial pilots.
Starting in Texas
Our initial routes will originate out of the Texas Triangle, outlined above, one of the busiest logistics corridors in the country.
Our first commercial pilots will move goods for shippers and carriers on several key “middle-mile” routes in Texas, which moves more freight by trucks than any other state. The Aurora Driver will operate autonomously with a safety driver between transfer hubs, or “terminals,” to enable us to efficiently consolidate loads from multiple sources. For shippers and carriers with existing hubs and large volumes of freight, we expect to ultimately drive the complete route with no need for an intermediate consolidation point.
As the biggest state in the “lower 48,” Texas’ middle-mile routes are lengthy. To quickly develop HD maps of this magnitude, we refined our Aurora Atlas tooling and doubled our production rates. Our strong mapping foundation in Texas helps us rapidly and seamlessly add routes as we improve our technology and expand services throughout the Southwest corridor.
Ramping up testing
In Dallas, our team and trucks operate nearly 24/7 to test and advance the Aurora Driver’s capabilities by collecting data to accelerate development and pulling loads for early customers. By implementing multiple testing shifts, our truck operators are now fine-tuning highway capabilities on the road even more efficiently. Their live feedback is incorporated into our Virtual Testing Suite, where our simulation technology is “driving” the equivalent of more than 10,000 action-packed trips from Dallas to Houston every day.
Expanding our bootprint in Texas
In less than a year, we outgrew our first office in Dallas, and we’ll be moving into a second, larger office to accommodate our expanding team and testing fleet. Over the next year, we’ll continue to mobilize and recruit passionate autonomous operations specialists, service engineers, and hardware and software engineers to join us in making trucking safer and more efficient than ever before. To use a local phrase, we’re moving faster than a prairie fire with a tailwind, and look forward to sharing more exciting updates soon.
Delivering the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly, and broadly.