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December 15, 2021 11:00 AM, EST

Aurora, Uber Freight Collaborate on Texas Pilot

Peterbilt truck equipped with Aurora technologyFor now, the Peterbilt tractors will have humans on board monitoring the autonomous operations. (Aurora)

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Autonomous vehicle technology developer Aurora Innovation Inc. will launch a pilot program with Uber Freight to move goods in Texas.

In a blog post Dec. 15, the Pittsburgh-based, company said it will use the pilot to explore integrating access to Uber Freight’s network with its overall autonomous trucking product suit, Aurora Horizon.

“A huge challenge in the freight industry is addressing underutilization and inefficient load procurement. This under-use is why many U.S. carriers rely on Uber Freight,” Aurora said.

What is Aurora Horizon?

The Aurora Horizon suite will be a subscription service that will include:

Aurora Driver: The hardware, software and data services needed to safely operate an Aurora-powered car or truck without a safety driver.

Aurora Beacon: The mission control system that will integrate with a carrier or network’s system and app to communicate dispatching and routing, monitor vehicle health and handle incident response.

Aurora Shield: A roadside assistance program and extended support designed to streamline service and maintenance and maximize the uptime of vehicles equipped with Aurora Driver.

Uber Freight is a division of the ride-hailing company that digitally matches carriers and truckers with shippers. Aurora said it believes that adding the service to its suite will help carriers maximize the operations of trucks equipped with the Aurora’s autonomous driving system.

“It also gives shippers access to a larger pool of carriers to haul local route legs. Ultimately, these opportunities result in a more streamlined, efficient and flexible freight logistics network — one that is necessary to help alleviate the strain we’re experiencing across supply chains today,” Aurora said.

Earlier in December, Class 8 trucks with Aurora’s so-called Driver began hauling drop-and-hook loads for Uber Freight customers between hubs in Dallas and Houston. For now, the Peterbilt tractors will have humans on board monitoring the autonomous operations. But the goal is to eventually run the trucks on the highway between the hubs without a human supervision.

However, Aurora still will need human drivers handling the first- and final-mile connections to hubs. Uber Freight drivers will help make those transfers.

“By leveraging Uber Freight’s technology, we were able to perform a seamless hand-off between Uber Freight’s local carriers and our vehicle operators at the transfer hub, paving the way for a hybrid future with local carriers and Aurora-powered trucks,” Aurora said.

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Host Mike Freeze talks to the 2021 Transport Topics Trucking's Frontline Heroes, Gene Woolsey and Cully Frisard. Hear a snippet above, and get the full program by going to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.

As it expands routes and terminals, Aurora plans to deepen the integration of Aurora Horizon within Uber Freight’s network.

“When we launch our commercial business, carriers using Aurora Horizon may have the option to leverage Uber Freight’s platform to haul freight for shippers between transfer hubs, allowing them to utilize their drivers and existing assets at full capacity,” Aurora said.

It plans to work with Uber Freight to identify how to best integrate Aurora’s cloud-based infrastructure to weave Uber’s network into Aurora Horizon.

The self-driving company’s goal is to create a system that can efficiently move freight 24/7 stopping only for fueling.

Aurora is working with Paccar and Volvo Trucks to provide self-driving technology for Class 8 tractors. The truck makers will sell the trucks, and Aurora will provide its subscription service.

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