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February 17, 2022 1:54 PM, EST

Aurora Reports 2021 Results, Plans to Expand in 2022

AuroraAurora's fleet. (Aurora Innovation Inc.)

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Self-driving transportation company Aurora Innovation Inc. on Feb. 16 announced that its fourth-quarter and full-year losses widened, but also said that its available cash soared in the wake of becoming a public company late last year.

It also said that it is gearing up for an expansion of ongoing test activity.

Aurora posted a Q4 loss of $253.3 million or negative 28 cents per share, compared with a loss of $66.5 million, negative 24 cents, a year ago. For the year, the company lost $755.4 million, negative $1.22, compared with a loss of $214.4 million, negative 79 cents, in 2020.

The Pittsburgh-based company, which went public in November 2021, ended the year with $1.6 billion in cash, compared with $387 million a year ago. That’s enough to fund operations through 2024, when Aurora plans to launch its Aurora Horizon autonomous commercial truck project, Chief Financial Officer Richard Tame told investors and analysts during a Feb. 16 conference call with investors and analysts.

“We ended 2021 with a very strong balance sheet, including $1.6 billion in cash, enabling us to continue to execute our mission of delivering the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly and broadly,” Tame said.

Chris Urmson

Urmson

“We’re emboldened and inspired by the tremendous opportunity we see to revolutionize how people and goods move throughout the world — making our roads safer and our transportation systems more accessible and efficient,” Aurora CEO and founder Chris Urmson wrote in an investor presentation delivered to the Securities and Exchange Commission. “The path to achieving this vision, one with the potential for hundreds of thousands of safe and efficient Aurora Driver-powered trucks and cars operating across a variety of use cases — is clear and measured. And we continue to execute accordingly.” Aurora Driver is the name of the company’s autonomous technology.

Aurora on Feb. 14 announced a partnership with Chattanooga, Tenn.-based U.S. Xpress to collaborate on a project to test autonomous technology on the carrier’s trucks. U.S. Xpress said it’s looking at ways the technology can improve freight capacity, operations and overall productivity.

READ MORE: U.S. Xpress Looks to Integrate Aurora Self-Driving Tech

Aurora also has agreements in place with FedEx Inc. and Uber Freight, as well as deals with original equipment manufacturers Paccar and Volvo Trucks.

In the case of FedEx, since last fall Aurora-equipped Paccar trucks have been running freight for the Memphis-based carrier between Dallas and Houston along a 240-mile stretch of Interstate 45 in autonomous mode, with a safety driver in the cab. FedEx has said the trucks are making the trip several times per week.

FedEx

Aurora has an agreement with FedEx to operate in Texas. (Aurora Innovations Inc.)

On the call, Aurora said an expansion of its efforts in Texas is forthcoming, but did not identify who it would be working with or a precise timetable for launch. A company spokesman told Transport Topics the test program will likely begin sometime in 2022.

“Today we’re announcing that trucks powered by the Aurora Driver are now regularly driving between Fort Worth and El Paso, in preparation for an anticipated new upcoming pilot launch,” Urmson said. “This lane represents the middle leg of one of the busiest commercial thoroughfares in the U.S. trucking industry, Atlanta to Los Angeles. The Fort Worth and El Paso lane is over 600 miles and takes approximately nine hours to complete. Its long distance and monotony contribute to this lane’s reputation for being undesirable for truck drivers. By deploying the Aurora Driver on such demanding hauls, we are building toward a future in which autonomous trucks can handle long routes, while human drivers can handle more convenient hauls that are conducive to more desirable lifestyles.”

 

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Aurora has also been expanding its partnership with Uber Freight, moving cargo five days a week and adding nighttime operations on some of its routes.

“We’re also working with them to explore integrating access to their digital freight network with Aurora Horizon or autonomous trucking products,” Urmson said. “In January we started nighttime hauls, demonstrating the Aurora Driver’s capability of operating day and night and further increasing our opportunity to learn.”

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