Autonomous driving technology specialist Aurora is experimenting with FedEx and Paccar. The partners announced on September 22, 2021, the launch of an autonomous commercial truck cargo transport pilot. Specifically, the goods will be transported on behalf of FedEx in a truck equipped with driving technology developed by Aurora.
A journey of 800 km
The partnership between Aurora and Paccar does not date back to today. The two companies announced last January that they wanted to equip Paccar trucks with Aurora technology. As part of this pilot with FedEx, the autonomous truck transports goods between Dallas and Houston, a journey of approximately 500 miles. A security driver is present in the truck. Note that partners do not specify how many trips they intend to complete in total or the duration of this pilot. They only specify that the experiment begins “today”.
This is not FedEx’s first step into the autonomous driving industry, as the carrier, for example, forged a long-term strategic partnership with Nuro, which develops delivery robots. The pilot’s announcement comes days after plans by Ford, Argo AI and Walmart to roll out autonomous delivery service in Miami, Austin and Washington DC were revealed. Meanwhile, Amazon has ordered 1,000 autonomous truck driving systems from Plus.ai.
The multitude of associations
Aurora was founded in 2017 by former Google, Tesla and Uber executives working in autonomous driving. The startup quickly focused on trucks, with the premise that this technology would first attract the world of freight transport before it could be used for passengers. This strategy is likely to bear fruit, as autonomous trucks are seen to solve the problem of labor shortages in the trucking sector, as well as improve safety and improve logistics efficiency.
Associations are multiplying in this sector. Beyond Paccar, Aurora has partnered with Volvo to equip its trucks with its technology. BMW, for its part, has approached Kodiak Robotics, as has Bridgeston. As for Daimler, it announced a partnership with Waymo, the Google subsidiary.