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Werner aligns with Aurora in latest autonomous experiment

Werner Enterprises, ever game for testing new technology, is aligning with Aurora Innovation Inc. to test supervised long-haul freight on a 600-mile stretch across Texas.

Werner’s name was missing from last week’s announcement that the Aurora Driver Beta 2.0 autonomous system was going for weekly long-distance pilot runs from a new terminal in Fort Worth to one in El Paso, a nine-hour journey.

The freight-dense corridor between Atlanta and Los Angeles is ideal for eventual driverless runs. Most drivers are bored by the monotony of the lane covered by westbound Interstates 20 and 10, miles of flat roads, big skies and brushy landscapes. 

Autonomous trucking companies see a future in which autonomous trucks can handle less-popular routes like this, leaving human drivers to move shorter-distance loads that allow more home time. Over-the-road truckers can be out for two weeks, or longer, at a time.

Capability expansion

The longer route is a capability expansion for Aurora, which currently hauls safety driver-supported autonomous loads for FedEx and Uber Freight on Interstate 45 between Palmer, Texas, and Houston, where it is also adding a terminal has Aurora is also providing autonomous ride hailing in Toyota Sienna minivans equipped with Aurora Driver in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Aurora (NASDAQ: AUR) and Werner (NASDAQ: WERN), a dedicated truckload and logistics provider, expect to increase the frequency of these loads over the next several months. They are exploring further autonomy on the route. 

“Werner has a long history of pioneering new technology within the industry,” Derek Leathers, Werner’s chairman, president and CEO, said in a press release. “This collaboration and pilot with Aurora is another step forward in our commitment to sustainability and safety for our drivers, customers and the motoring public through innovation.

“We look forward to building a hybrid world where drivers continue to haul freight while autonomous trucks supplement rising demand,” Leathers said

Werner’s collaborations

The list of Werner’s collaborations is long, including: 

Aurora going the distance, adding 600-mile autonomous route in Texas

Werner broadens base as test bed for new trucking powertrain technologies

Werner exempted from driver training provision

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes FedEx (No. 1) and Werner Enterprises (No. 10).