Autonomous driving company Aurora Innovation and German automotive parts giant Continental have taken a major step forward in their quest to develop self-driving trucks at scale

Graham Hope

January 8, 2024

2 Min Read
Aurora, Continental self-driving trucks
Aurora Innovation

The pair, which first announced their partnership last May, say they have finalized the design and architecture of the Aurora Driver hardware and fallback system and published a detailed roadmap to production.

The timeline suggests that by 2027 “thousands” of semi trucks featuring the Aurora Driver tech – which is designed to operate for a million miles – will be autonomously hauling freight across the United States.

When Aurora and Continental revealed their tie-up in 2023, the Aurora Driver autonomous system was already claimed to be “Feature Complete.”  By linking up with such an established name as Continental, the Pittsburgh-based company aimed to give itself the best opportunity to industrialize its tech successfully.

And that strategy now appears to be bearing fruit, with a clear pathway emerging towards production at scale.

Over the past few months, the pair have been working closely fine-tuning the Aurora Driver’s architecture and detailed technical specifications, as well focusing on the fallback system – a specialized secondary computer that can take over operation if a failure occurs in the primary system. 

This phase is now said to be “complete.”

The next step is for Continental to build initial versions of the hardware for testing at its facility in New Braunfels, Texas and at other plants across the world, with Aurora planning a driverless launch at the end of 2024.

Related:Self-Driving Trucks Pilot Planned by Daimler Company

By 2026, Continental will be ready to industrialize the Aurora Driver hardware and fallback system – which will make use of many items from the German company’s product portfolio – before shipping to Aurora’s truck-making partners for integration. A maintenance network will also be developed.

This will set the pair up for the widespread commercial deployment envisaged for 2027.
“Achieving this milestone puts us on a credible path to deploy easy-to-service autonomous trucking systems that customers demand,” said Philipp von Hirschheydt of Continental.

“Being the industry’s only tier-one supplier with a commitment to industrialize autonomous hardware kits at scale allows us to be at the forefront of and capitalize on this groundbreaking technology.”

Chris Urmson, co-Founder and CEO at Aurora added: “From day one, we knew we’d need to build a strong ecosystem of partners to bring this technology to market safely and at a commercial scale. Finalizing the design of our future hardware is a meaningful step toward making the unit economics of the Aurora Driver compelling and building a business for the long-term.”

Aurora and Continental are showcasing their work together at CES.

2024 is shaping up to be a pivotal year in the autonomous truck arena, with Aurora’s key rival Kodiak Robotics also intending to launch driverless tests over the next few months.

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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