Each quarter, we release an updated beta version of the Aurora Driver. Each of our beta releases builds on the ones that came before, and Aurora Driver Beta 4.0, which we released in Q3 of this year, is no different.
Beta 4.0 contains new driving capabilities that enable the Aurora Driver to navigate more of the unexpected obstacles it encounters while hauling freight for our customers in Texas, as well as improvements to many of the capabilities we’ve released in past betas.
Wherefore art thou, lane line?
Temporary lane lines due to construction zones appear frequently along our commercial routes in Texas. When triggered by the appearance of new alternative lane lines, the Aurora Driver now knows to deviate from the Aurora Atlas, our HD map, and follow that new path.
Road debris such as tire shreds, garbage, fallen boxes, vegetation, and even abandoned furniture are extremely common and can be dangerous, especially when vehicles are moving at highway speeds. To help the Aurora Driver avoid dangerous debris on our roads, we exposed the Aurora Driver to over 10,000 virtual road debris tests.
Hardware: Becoming driverless-ready
As we advance our software, we are simultaneously maturing the Aurora Driver’s hardware. During Q3, we kicked off the driverless-ready phase of our hardware roadmap and have begun preparing the Aurora Driver’s sensors and computer for manufacturability and high reliability in automotive settings.
In addition to overall improved performance, our hardware can now monitor its own health, fall back on key redundancies when needed, and operate in the demanding environments it will be exposed to on the open road.
Operations: Strengthening our commercial muscles
Through our commercial pilots with FedEx, Werner, Schneider, and Uber Freight, we are seeing the value and impact that an autonomous trucking service can deliver to the logistics industry. By collaborating closely with our pilot customers, we continue to make big strides in building out the operational services, processes, and infrastructure required to deploy Aurora Driver-powered vehicles at scale.
660 loads and counting
Cumulative through the end of October, we have autonomously delivered (under the supervision of vehicle operators) over 660 loads, driving more than 180,000 miles with nearly 100% on-time performance. We also achieved our end-of-quarter commercial load booking target of 22 loads/week, up 50% from Q2.
To El Paso and beyond
In October, we expanded our pilot with Uber Freight to begin autonomously hauling freight on our 600-mile Fort Worth to El Paso lane.
Vehicle platform: Preparing for the future
We continue to collaborate closely with our OEM partners, PACCAR and Volvo Trucks, in preparation for the scalable, autonomy-enabled truck platforms that will support our commercial launch.
Scaling our fleet
In Q3, we built, brought up, and integrated 21 new Peterbilt 579 trucks with the latest generation of our commercial hardware. These trucks will be integral to our commercial pilots over the coming year as we work to scale from 22 loads/week to our target of 100 loads/week and validate the commercial readiness of the Aurora Driver.
New faces in the lineup
Since our OEM partners awarded key supplier contracts in Q2, we have received and begun testing a new set of vehicles equipped with one of the key systems needed to achieve the reliability necessary for safe driverless operations.
In addition to our work with PACCAR on the Peterbilt 579, in October we debuted the first autonomous Kenworth T680 prototype designed for the Aurora Driver’s sensor suite, rounding out PACCAR’s Autonomous Vehicle Platform.
We also began integration testing with a Volvo truck platform that is outfitted with certain critical driverless systems that are necessary to enable the Aurora Driver.
Bonus: Hosting a special guest
The enthusiasm for our technology is palpable among our customers, partners, and other stakeholders. In fact, at the end of Q3, we were honored to host U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and other transportation officials at a test track in the California Bay Area.
Our CEO Chris Urmson accompanied Secretary Buttigieg on a ride around the test track in an Aurora Driver-powered truck, as the two discussed how safety-focused, innovative technology can benefit the future of transportation.
At Aurora, we're developing autonomous vehicles that will improve road safety and strengthen the supply chain.
We’re on the brink of the transportation transformation
We firmly believe that autonomous technology will be the next fundamental change in ground transportation and that Aurora is positioned for success in this new market. Why? Because we are singularly focused on our mission and on what we do best, which includes building a differentiated technology stack, collaborating with a diversified set of incredible partners, and developing a compelling commercialization strategy.
Over the next five months, we plan to release the remaining critical autonomy capabilities that will make the Aurora Driver feature complete for our launch lane.