Aurora and Uber Freight Expand Self-Driving Truck Runs Out of DFW

Aurora and Uber Freight's new self-driving trucking "lane" between Fort Worth and El Paso expands Aurora's operations in Texas. The company also hauls freight between Dallas and Houston—and is now hauling goods autonomously (with human vehicle operators in the cab) for FedEx, Werner, Schneider, and Uber Freight in Texas.

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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R E A D   N E X T

  • In this week's roundup of hires, promotions, and accolades in North Texas, you'll also find news from Firehouse, Enseo, Cambium Learning, D Magazine, Lear Investment Management, Spacee, Envy Gaming, 5Q, Stream Realty Partners, Nanoscope, Crossplane Capital, Improving, TimelyMD and more.

  • Aurora capped off a six-month pilot test of its autonomous Toyota S-AM minivans in Dallas-Fort Worth by giving Toyota North America CEO Ted Ogawa and other execs a ride toward DFW Airport yesterday. Aurora will continue to test and develop its ride-hailing and autonomous trucking tech from Dallas, including a new trucking route from Dallas to El Paso. It expects to launch its ride-hailing product, Aurora Connect, in late 2024.

  • Former Ryder CTO Kendra Phillips will lead Aurora's trucking and logistics partner programs. The newest one—a Fort Worth-El Paso hauling route for Werner Enterprises—is a key link in the commercial thoroughfare from L.A. to Atlanta. But it's a flat, monotonous run that many truck drivers find unappealing—making it a key test case for the Aurora Driver.

  • Gatik, an autonomous trucking leader in “middle mile” logistics, continues to expand its strong DFW presence. Today it announced a multi-year partnership with Pitney Bowes, the global shipping and mailing company, that will mean even more self-driving trucking routes on Dallas streets soon. Under the agreement, Gatik's self-driving fleet of class 6 box trucks will begin making "multiple deliveries per day" across Pitney Bowes' e-commerce logistics network in the Dallas area, beginning in Q1 2023. Safety operator will monitor performance During the initial phase of the operations, a safety operator will be in the trucks to monitor performance, Gatik says.…

  • The program is based on the success seen at the West Dallas Stem School—supported by around $5 million in donations from Toyota and a collaboration between Dallas ISD and SMU. Now Toyota is taking the STEM-focused educational model across the country, to help prepare students in pre-K through 12th grade for the workforce, while providing a variety of other community engagement activities.