Aurora has opened what it calls a “commercial-ready” terminal for autonomous trucks just south of Dallas. The terminal deploys autonomous trucks pulling freight for Aurora’s pilot fleet customers, including FedEx, Schneider and Uber Freight.
On a daily basis, the terminal – located in Palmer, Texas – deploys autonomous trucks between Dallas and Houston. This terminal will serve as the “blueprint” for the company’s future network of terminals.
As the company prepares for the commercial launch of Aurora Horizon, its autonomous trucking service, the company envisions leveraging a network of terminals to house, maintain, prepare, inspect, and deploy autonomous trucks between destinations.
In case you were wondering, we've doubled our weekly hauls for pilot customers and are helping to autonomously deliver thousands of packages per week. pic.twitter.com/XMmT7ehBNP— Aurora (@aurora_inno) December 8, 2022
Aurora’s South Dallas terminal includes:
- sensor calibration ranges, high-speed data offload, and launching and landing zones.
- fueling and weigh stations to enable autonomous trucks to continuously drive without additional stops.
- On-site maintenance
Aurora Prepares System for Commercial-Launch
Over the last 18 months, Aurora has released dozens of capabilities through six Aurora Driver Beta updates, incrementally increasing the Aurora Driver’s autonomous performance, safety, and reliability in pilot hauls.
Now, Aurora Driver has been deemed “feature complete,” meaning the company has introduced the final driving capabilities needed to commercially haul freight without vehicle operators between Dallas and Houston by the end of 2024, including:
- Identifying and responding to collisions with other vehicles or property. For example, when the Aurora Driver detects that it has been in a collision, like a sideswipe, it will come to a safe stop and notify a Command Center Specialist.
- Detecting and responding to “out of design domain” scenarios. In situations such as extreme and unexpected weather events, the Aurora Driver will notify a Command Center Specialist, who can instruct it and the rest of the fleet on how to proceed.
What Comes Next for Aurora?
The company now enters its final phase of refinement and validation ahead of launch of driverless operations on a lane from Dallas to Houston. Aurora will fine-tune the systems capabilities to optimize autonomous performance. The company expects validation to close by the end of 2023.
In parallel, the company will continue to mature its operations as pilot load volume is expected to increase to 100 loads per week by the end of 2023. Aurora is currently hauling 50 customer loads a week across its two commercial routes.
Aurora also expects its Houston terminal to be ready for commercial operation in the third quarter of the year.