Aurora Innovation said it’s still on schedule for the commercial launch of its autonomous-truck program at the end of 2024.
The opening of a new terminal in Houston means the company now has a lane for driverless trucks that’s supported by commercial-ready terminals on both ends. It opened its Dallas terminal earlier this year.
Nearly half of all truck freight in Texas moves along the I-45 between Dallas and Houston, the company said.
“Opening a driverless trucking lane flanked by commercially ready terminals is an industry-first that unlocks our ability to launch our driverless trucking product,” said Sterling Anderson, co-founder and chief product officer. “With this corridor’s launch, we’ve defined, refined, and validated the framework for the expansion of our network with the largest partner ecosystem in the autonomous trucking industry.”
Commercial-Ready Terminals for Autonomous Trucks
Aurora’s terminals are used to house, maintain, prepare, inspect, and deploy autonomous trucks between destinations. The company has developed a terminal blueprint with a layout and list of features to make terminals ready for driverless operations.
This blueprint is designed to maximize the time autonomous trucks are on the road hauling freight.
The Houston terminal is located in a logistics hub near pilot customers such as FedEx, making it easy for fleets to integrate autonomous trucks into their middle-mile operations.
Preparing for Commercial Driverless Operations
Aurora’s terminals operate day and night, supporting their trucks as they haul more than 75 loads a week for pilot customers.
The company is also preparing its Command Center to support around-the-clock commercial operations. This includes a team of remote specialists to monitor and provide guidance to the active fleet of Aurora-powered trucks, and dispatchers who allocate trucks, trailers, and vehicle operators to missions. Aurora’s Command Center already supports commercial pilot hauls and is prepared to support driverless missions.
“Bringing our commercial-ready terminals and services online a year ahead of our planned commercial driverless launch between Dallas and Houston enables us to focus next year on integrating our Driver-ready trucks into our customers' operations,” added Anderson.
The Aurora Driver is a self-driving system designed to operate multiple vehicle types, from freight-hauling trucks to ride-hailing passenger vehicles, and underpins Aurora Horizon and Aurora Connect, its driver-as-a-service products for trucking and ride-hailing. Aurora is working with companies such as Continental, FedEx, Paccar, Ryder, Schneider, Toyota, Uber, Uber Freight, Volvo Trucks and Werner.
Funding Autonomous Truck Commercial Development
“Despite a cyclically challenged commercial freight market, we continue to make steady progress growing our commercial loads and operational capabilities in preparation for commercial launch," wrote CFO David Maday in Aurora's third-quarter shareholder letter.
Maday said Aurora achieved its end of third quarter target to autonomously haul 75 loads per week for customers. It is now logging over 20,000 commercial miles per week. Cumulative to-date through Oct. 29, Aurora has autonomously delivered (under the supervision of vehicle operators) over 3,200 loads, driving more than 895,000 commercial miles, with nearly 100% on-time performance for pilot customers.
The company did not record any revenue in the third quarter.
Aurora used approximately $147 million in operating cash, and capital expenditures totaled $5 million. This was below Aurora’s target of $175 million to $185 million per quarter on average, Maday reported.
At a time when investment dollars for startups have slowed, Aurora reported that during the third quarter, it raised $853 million in gross proceeds combined from a private placement and public offering of Class A common stock, for net proceeds totaling $828 million.
“We ended the third quarter with a very strong balance sheet, including $1.5 billion in cash and short-term investments,” Maday wrote. “We continue to expect this liquidity to support our planned commercial launch and fund our operations into the second half of 2025.”
Originally posted on Trucking Info