Continental, Aurora partner to scale autonomy in trucks

By Becky Schultz05 May 2023

Aurora Driver autonomous hardware system A diagram of the Aurora Driver autonomous hardware system that will be delivered by Continental via its Hardware as a Service business model. (Photo: Business Wire)

Technology companies Continental and Aurora Innovation Inc. have entered an exclusive partnership to deliver a commercially scalable generation of the Aurora Driver, a self-driving system with a common core of hardware and software designed to adapt to vehicle types ranging from passenger cars to Class 8 trucks.

According to the partnership agreement, the organizations will jointly design, develop, validate, deliver and service the scalable autonomous system for the trucking industry. The system is expected to be available for carriers and commercial fleet operators across the U.S. and to help reduce costs to facilitate broader adoption, the companies noted.

Continental will be responsible for the autonomous driving system kits, leveraging its experience in systems development for safer, more reliable automotive solutions to industrialize the Aurora Driver and deliver the entire hardware set. It will also develop a new fallback system to ensure a driverless vehicle can reach a safe position in the unlikely event of a failure in the primary autonomy system. The fallback system will utilize products from Contental’s automotive product portfolio, including sensors, automated driving control units (ADCU), high-performance computers (HPC), telematics units and more. The company will integrate these components into pods that will be supplied to Aurora’s vehicle manufacturing partners.

According to the companies, this collaboration will advance the product offering for autonomous trucking customers.

“Delivering autonomous vehicles at scale has the potential to dramatically transform modern transportation, bringing new accessibility, safety and efficiency to the movement of goods and people,” said Chris Urmson, co-founder and CEO at Aurora Innovation. “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. Their depth of expertise will be pivotal to scaling Aurora’s autonomous trucking service, Aurora Horizon.”

“Continental and Aurora will bring the commercial freight market, limited by supply chain constraints in many markets of the world, to a new service level,” added Frank Petznick, head of the Autonomous Mobility Business Area, which will implement Continental’s contributions to the partnership with Aurora. “The first commercially scalable autonomous trucking system provides exciting opportunities for passenger transportation in the coming years and paves the way for broad adoption of autonomous mobility.”

Continental plans to produce and assemble parts in its newly built manufacturing facility in New Braunfels, Texas, as well as others across the company’s global footprint. Production is expected to start in 2027, following the expected launch of Aurora Horizon, Aurora’s subscription trucking service underpinned by the Aurora Driver, in 2024.

Continental and Aurora have agreed upon a hardware-as-a-service business relationship, based on mileage driven, to deliver safe, reliable, uptime-optimized and commercially scalable autonomous driving systems to customers through the Aurora Horizon platform, the companies noted.

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