Aurora and Werner Launch Commercial Pilot to Autonomously Haul Freight in Texas

Aurora-powered trucks are aimed to help address trucker fatigue.

Aurora Innovation

Aurora Innovations was founded in 2017.

Self-driving technology software company Aurora Innovation has announced a collaboration with transportation logistics company Werner Enterprises.   

Starting this week, Aurora Driver-powered trucks are hauling loads between Fort Worth and El Paso on behalf of Werner. This lane represents the middle leg of one of the busiest commercial thoroughfares for Werner and the U.S. trucking industry: Atlanta to Los Angeles, the companies said.

From Fort Worth to El Paso

Introducing an autonomous route between Fort Worth and El Paso allows Werner to move freight seamlessly and reliably on a subset of one of its most voluminous lanes.

The collaboration with Werner strategically broadens Aurora’s customer ecosystem to include multiple carrier types, the companies said.

The pilot is designed to advance the Aurora Driver, and Aurora Horizon, Aurora’s autonomous truck product, to develop a robust service for carriers.

Today, operators are accompanying each truck in the pilot fleet on weekly hauls, ready to assist if necessary. Over the next several months, Pittsburgh-based Aurora and Omaha, Neb.-based Werner expect to increase the frequency of these loads and are exploring further autonomy for vehicles in this lane.

Robotics address trucker fatigue

The Fort Worth to El Paso Lane is over 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.

Launching this new route is a technical and operational milestone toward deploying the Aurora Driver at scale.

Two new terminal sites brough online

To start this commercial pilot, Aurora brought two new terminal sites online to service this route and built the technological and operational infrastructure required to operate it.

The technical, operational, and commercial muscle Aurora is building in the process will serve its customers well as they deploy Aurora-Driver-powered trucks at scale.

“Werner has a long history of pioneering new technology within the industry,” said Werner’s Chairman, President and CEO Derek Leathers. “This collaboration and pilot with Aurora is another step forward in our commitment to sustainability and safety for our drivers, customers and the motoring public through innovation. We look forward to building a hybrid world where drivers continue to haul freight while autonomous trucks supplement rising demand.”

“We’re proud to partner with Werner to bring the game-changing safety, efficiency, and reliability benefits of self-driving technology to their business,” said Sterling Anderson, Aurora’s co-founder and chief product officer. “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.”

Last month, Aurora launched its Aurora Driver Beta 2.0. Features in the update include:

  • Advanced highway and suburban capabilities, including more complex construction zone navigation, key for hauling freight across the country.
  • Upgraded cameras with higher resolution, allowing for obstacle detection at 2x the distance.
  • New commercial route between Fort Worth and El Paso supported by daily map updates.

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Aurora Innovation

Aurora Innovations was founded in 2017.

Robot Technologies