Werner Partners With Aurora to Haul Freight Autonomously in Texas


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Aurora Innovation Inc. has announced a deal to haul freight on a route between Fort Worth and El Paso, Texas, for Werner Enterprises.

“We look forward to building a hybrid world where drivers continue to haul freight while autonomous trucks supplement rising demand,” Werner President and CEO Derek Leathers said in an April 6 news release.

Aurora said the trucking lane it will test for Werner is an essential link in the nation’s freight network, as it is the middle leg between Atlanta and Los Angeles.

The route is more than 600 miles and takes approximately nine hours to complete.

“Its long distance and monotony contribute to this lane’s reputation for being unappealing for truck drivers. By deploying the Aurora Driver on such hauls, Aurora and the companies it is working with are building a future in which autonomous trucks can handle less popular routes, while human drivers transport more convenient hauls that are conducive to desirable lifestyles,” the company said in an April 6 statement.

Aurora Driver is the name for the company’s autonomous technology.

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“We look forward to maturing and streamlining these hybrid operations and ultimately delivering a product that delivers value to Werner and its customers at a large scale,” said Sterling Anderson, Aurora’s co-founder and chief product officer.

Werner ranks No. 17 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America and No. 30 on the TT Top 50 list of the largest logistics companies.

The Werner agreement is the third pilot program Aurora has in progress to carry loads autonomously. Aurora operates terminals in South Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth and El Paso to support multiple commercial lanes it uses to haul freight for Werner, FedEx and Uber Freight.

Kendra Phillips


Separately, the Pittsburgh-based company said it hired Kendra Phillips, the former chief technology officer at Ryder, as vice president of its logistic partner programs and operations.

Phillips will help create Aurora’s terminal service blueprint. She also will build out Aurora Shield, the company’s roadside assistance program that provides maintenance and command center operations for trucks using Aurora Driver.

Aurora upgraded Aurora Driver in March, adding advanced autonomy capabilities to navigate complex construction zones better. The system now better handles lane changes and driving around the concrete barriers and cones common to construction sites. It also improved its camera resolution to more quickly identify potential obstacles and improved its mapping.

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