Continental, Aurora Team to Bring Self-Driving Tech to Market

Together they will design, develop, validate, deliver and service an autonomous system for carriers and commercial operators across the U.S

Graham Hope

May 3, 2023

2 Min Read

Autonomous driving company Aurora Innovation is teaming with German automotive parts giant Continental to help bring its self-driving truck tech to market.

The exclusive partnership aims to deliver the first commercially scalable version of Aurora’s integrated hardware and software system, the Aurora Driver.

While Pittsburgh-based Aurora has made great strides with the current iteration of its Aurora Driver tech – declaring it “Feature Complete” earlier this year – scaling was always going to present a challenge due to the cost and complexity involved.

By joining up with such an established name as Continental, Aurora now has a greater opportunity to industrialize its tech profitably.

The companies say they will work together to design, develop, validate, deliver and service an autonomous system for carriers and commercial operators across the United States, helping to reduce costs and encourage more widespread adoption. 

Continental’s role will be to deliver the hardware required, as well as develop a new fallback system designed to ensure a driverless truck can continue operating in the unlikely event its primary autonomy system fails. It also says it will manage the complete lifecycle of the hardware, from manufacturing to decommissioning, while providing maintenance and servicing for Aurora Driver-powered trucks.

Related:Aurora’s Driverless Truck Tech Close to Commercialization

Production is expected to start in 2027, following the launch of Aurora Horizon, Aurora’s subscription trucking service underpinned by the Aurora Driver, in 2024.

The arrangement will take advantage of Continental’s wide product portfolio, including sensors, automated driving control units, computers and telematics units, which will be integrated into pods supplied to Aurora’s vehicle manufacturing partners. This “hardware as a service” model, which is based on mileage driven, is being hailed by the pair as an industry first and will see Continental parts produced and assembled at its new manufacturing plant at New Braunfels, Texas, as well as other facilities across the world.

Nikolai Setzer, CEO of Continental, hailed the deal, saying: “In this exclusive partnership, we bundle our systems’ competence with Aurora’s industry-leading autonomous technology for our common goal to jointly realize the first commercially scalable autonomous trucking systems – a crucial step towards autonomous mobility.”

“Continental's legacy in development and industrialization of automated driving systems, combined with its commitment to transform transportation, make it an ideal partner for Aurora,” said Chris Urmson, Aurora’s co-founder and CEO.

Related:Uber Freight, Aurora Expand Self-Driving Pilot for Holiday Rush

The current version of the Aurora Driver comprises a sensor suite made up of radar, standard lidar and the company’s “FirstLight Lidar” – which can see more than twice the distance of conventional lidar. The sensors are paired with Aurora’s computing system and the Aurora Atlas high-definition mapping system. 

Aurora has developed the tech step by step over the past 18 months in pilots for companies including FedEx, Werner and Uber Freight

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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