Aurora Innovation and Uber Freight have expanded their autonomous trucking pilot program with a new weekly self-driving trucking route between Fort Worth and El Paso.
The 600-mile “lane” across Texas launched in October, the companies said. As the holiday season nears, the companies are using the new route to autonomously haul goods for Veritiv, a leading Fortune 500 distributor of packaged goods. The packages are going to customers in El Paso and New Mexico, including retailers, schools, and hospitals.
Earlier this year, Aurora announced it was opening autonomous vehicle terminals in Fort Worth and El Paso to bolster its partnership with Omaha-based Werner Enterprises, with autonomously driven loads hauled between the two cities.
The self-driving trucks have a human operator inside—for now
While the trucks—based on PACCAR’s Peterbilt 579M—are driven autonomously, operators in the cab are accompanying each truck in the pilot fleet, ready to assist if needed, Aurora said.
But down the road, the trucks may one day be rolling without a human inside. “We expect to pull the driver and launch our trucking service, Aurora Horizon, in late 2024,” the company said.
Easing supply-chain pressures over the holidays
“The holidays are a challenging time for the logistics industry. We’re crafting Aurora Horizon to help carriers of all sizes alleviate some of the supply chain pressures that typically accompany them,” Sterling Anderson, Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder of Aurora, said in a statement.
“Deploying our technology with the Uber Freight team over this 600-mile trip at the peak of the season is an outgrowth of our mutual commitment to ensure that Aurora Horizon can enable carriers of all sizes to safely and efficiently haul freight 24/7/365 on the Uber Freight network,” Anderson added.
Aurora is also partnering with FedEx, Schneider, Werner, and others
Pittsburgh- and Mountain View, California-based Aurora has also opened a terminal in Houston—and is now hauling goods autonomously with vehicle operators for FedEx, Werner, Schneider, and Uber Freight across multiple high-volume freight corridors in Texas.
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