Aurora integrates driverless trucks with Uber Freight to haul between Dallas and Houston

Amazon-backed self-driving vehicle firm Aurora is integrating its driverless tech with Uber Freight’s logistics platform to haul shipments between Dallas and Houston.

Aurora acquired Uber’s self-driving vehicle business in December 2020. Through its partnership with the company, Aurora plans to integrate with Uber’s trucking platform in multiple phases beginning with a pilot route running from North Texas to Southeast Texas.

Since last week, the company began hauling freight for Uber Freight customers with its automated trucks along the Dallas-Houston route. An Uber Freight driver drops the load with Aurora, and Aurora’s self-driving trucks haul it along the freeway between Aurora’s hubs in either city, then another human Uber Freight driver handles the last leg of the journey.

Over the next two years, Aurora will integrate its trucking platform, Aurora Horizon, with Uber Freight with the goal of allowing its own customers to also haul freight for shippers using Uber Freight.

One factor ailing the U.S. supply chain recently is the underutilization of long-haul truck drivers. This is mostly due to inefficient scheduling of resources already available, one Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Transportation and Logistics research scientist told Congress last month.

One goal of Aurora’s integration with Uber Freight is to allow customers of its future commercial driverless truck product to minimize the amount of time fleets of trucks are off the road.

Aurora Horizon is the company’s subscription-based platform that comes with any Aurora-powered truck fleet bought or leased by a customer. Aurora aims to launch its self-driving truck platform commercially in late 2023.

The company has been piloting its self-driving 18-wheeler technology along I-45 between the two major Texas cities since late 2020. The trucks it currently uses are from the company’s test fleet and still include a vehicle operator behind the wheel for safety and data collection.

In September, the company announced its first commercial partnership with FedEx, hauling goods between Dallas and Houston with its self-driving tech-equipped PACCAR trucks.

The stretch of I-45 between Dallas and Houston has emerged as a popular testing ground for autonomous truck technology.

The route has stable weather conditions and is a relatively flat drive between two populous U.S. cities, according to companies and experts in the self-driving vehicle space. Texas is also unique in that the legislature passed a law in 2017 that legalized operating vehicles on state roadways without a driver.

Through its strategic partnership with Uber, Aurora has also begun testing its self-driving Toyota Siennas on the Uber platform in Dallas.

Aurora has said previously it aims to launch its autonomous vehicle software for public use on ride-sharing platforms by 2024. It plans to sell its AI-powered Aurora Driver technology to ride-sharing companies and charge a fee for trips that use the software.

Founded in 2017 by the former head of Google’s self-driving vehicle business, Aurora went public in November through a SPAC merger. The company has said it expects to lose money until 2027, and it spent $179 million last year on research and development alone.


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Written by Ethiotime1

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