Chris Urmson, Aurora co-founder and CEO, talks about the future of autonomous trucking at CES 2024.  -  Photo: Jack Roberts

Chris Urmson, Aurora co-founder and CEO, talks about the future of autonomous trucking at CES 2024.

Photo: Jack Roberts

Continental has added context to its new autonomous technology partnership with Aurora announced last week. At a press briefing at the CES high-tech trade show in Las Vegas, Continental executives touched on some of the company’s ongoing technology initiatives in both the passenger car and commercial vehicle markets. Naturally, the new partnership with Aurora was one of those topics covered.

From the Road to the Cloud

“Welcome to the future. For us, the future means for us from the road to the cloud," said Nikolai Setzer, Continental CEO and chairman of the automotive board, in his opening remarks.

Setzer said there are few companies at CES, or anywhere else, that offer such a wide array of products as Continental (including sustainable tires that can one day become surface solutions for home interiors) that are all connected to the cloud. 

Philipp von Hirschheydt, executive board member for Continental’s automotive group sector, and Aurora co-founder and CEO Chris Urmson expanded on Setzer’s remarks.

Von Hirschheydt said the Continental-Aurora partnership was founded to deliver the best self-driving technology to trucking safely, quickly, and, broadly.

“The past six or seven years haven’t really been about building technology,” he said. "The years after next will be about how do we scale and grow our business and have more customers using it. And this next year will be the one where the magic happens. Where we go from telling the story of what automated vehicles will do for transportation to actually seeing and realizing the world, and we couldn't find a better partner to do that.”

Pivotal Year for Autonomous Trucking

Urmson called Aurora’s partnership “one of a kind” in the automated tech sector.

“Together we're developing a scalable, safe system that can be deployed first for commercial trucks,” he said. “Together this is going to allow us to deploy a business model that we think is actually going to be viable, in fact quite lucrative, and also one that will bring safety and improve performance to your transportation around the world.”

Urmson said putting the partnership together over the past year was exciting, building a company around the budding relationship.

“Over the last year, we drove about a million miles hauling goods for customers and we moved about 30 million tons of freight in trucks under autonomous control,” he explained.

That includes 7 million pounds hauled for FedEx, Urmson added.

“It was quite an incredible year for us, while also making great progress on both realizing the architecture for the system we're developing together and moving the safety case along for our system that we'll have on the road,” he said. “We believe 2024 is going to be a pivotal year for us.”

Asked how the Aurora partnership slotted in with Continental’s autonomous driving initiatives, Setzer told HDT that Continental would focus on the passenger car market segments. The Aurora-Continental partnership will focus on commercial vehicles. The two companies' engineering teams are collaborating on the technology development front, Urmson added, with both companies assisting the other in developing safe and reliable autonomous vehicle control systems.

About the author
Jack Roberts

Jack Roberts

Executive Editor

Jack Roberts is known for reporting on advanced technology, such as intelligent drivetrains and autonomous vehicles. A commercial driver’s license holder, he also does test drives of new equipment and covers topics such as maintenance, fuel economy, vocational and medium-duty trucks and tires.

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