In the latest sign of Aurora innovation scaling its autonomous trucking system, the startup is partnering with German supplier Continental AG to build the hardware.
The exclusive partnership expects to make future generations of the Aurora Driver integrated hardware and software systems available in the U.S. in 2027. Aurora plans to launch its first driverless commercial route on the Aurora Horizon subscription service between Dallas and Houston at the end of 2024.
“Delivering autonomous vehicles at scale has the potential to dramatically transform modern transportation, bringing new accessibility, safety and efficiency to the movement of goods and people,” Aurora co-founder and CEO Chris Urmson said in a news release.
Continental is a Top 5 Tier 1 automotive supplier. It had about 200,000 employees and revenue of $43.5 billion in 2022.
Aurora is among the leaders in autonomous trucking. It has non-exclusive partnerships with Paccar Inc. and Volvo Group, contributing its specifics to the development of purpose-built chassis.
Hardware-as-a-service business relationship
Hanover, Germany-based Continental and Pittsburgh-based Aurora will collaborate to design, develop, validate, deliver and service the scalable autonomous system. Continental’s new manufacturing facility in New Braunfels, Texas, will produce and assemble the parts.
The autonomous driving system kitsl leverage Continental’s automotive product portfolio. That includes sensors, automated driving control units, high-performance computers, telematics and more. Continental integrates the hardware components into pods for Aurora’s vehicle manufacturing partners.
Aurora and Continental described the business as an industry-first hardware-as-a-service business relationship based on mileage. Aurora declined to describe how that would work pending a Securities and Exchange Commission filing expected Thursday. But Aurora said it does not involve revenue sharing.
Continental will deliver the entire hardware set as well as a new fallback system. If the primary autonomy system fails, the fallback system is designed to ensure a driverless truck can continue driving until it reaches a safe position.
Continental also will manage the life cycle of the autonomous hardware kits for the Aurora Driver from the manufacturing line to decommissioning.
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