Aurora picks Continental to help scale self-driving trucks
Aurora Innovation, one of a handful of surviving startups working on self-driving trucks, is turning to leading global auto supplier Continental to help bring its technology to market.
Why it matters: Aurora is a software company — it needs the expertise of a proven automotive giant to industrialize autonomous truck technology at profitable scale.
Details: The two companies announced overnight that they will work together to deliver the next generation of Aurora's flagship hardware and software system, the Aurora Driver, starting in 2027.
- Continental will supply the hardware kits — including sensors, automated driving control units, high performance computers and telematics units — to truck manufacturers such as Paccar and Volvo Trucks.
- Those manufacturers will integrate the hardware kits into trucks sold to freight haulers that want self-driving capability for their fleets.
- Those carriers will then activate the Aurora Driver through a new subscription trucking service called Aurora Horizon.
Of note: Continental, with decades of experience in systems integration, will also supply customers with a new "fallback system," the companies said.
- "In the unlikely event of a failure in the primary autonomy system, the fallback system is designed to ensure a driverless truck can continue the driving task until it reaches a safe position."
- Continental will also be responsible for maintenance of the Aurora Driver kit over each truck's lifetime.
Between the lines: The deal represents a new hardware-as-a-service business model for the industry, the companies said.
- Continental is making an upfront investment to produce the hardware kit at its new manufacturing facility in New Braunfels, Texas.
- In turn, Aurora will pay Continental on a per-mile basis for vehicles operated by the Aurora Driver using the automated-driving kit.
Where it stands: Aurora is still validating its technology using backup drivers with a fleet of self-driving trucks.
- The company expects to launch its fully driverless Aurora Horizon service by the end of 2024.