Volvo and Aurora to develop autonomous semi-trucks

Volvo is partnering with self-driving technology startup Aurora on a new lineup of fully autonomous semi-trucks, to be deployed in North America.

The companies say they have been exploring a potential partnership since 2018, when they came together to build a prototype truck nicknamed Pistachio (pictured below).

However, according to Aurora, their sensor suite at the time, could not robustly see far enough to safely drive a Class 8 truck at highway speeds. Then in 2019, Aurora was able to procure the technology through their acquisition of Blackmore.

The FirstLight vehicle was debuted in 2020, as well as Class 8 trucks integrated with next-gen Aurora technology were deployed in Texas. At the same time, Volvo was also creating their autonomous solutions unit, focused specifically on developing autonomous solutions.

“Today, after years of patient preparation, we’re delighted to announce that Volvo Autonomous Solutions has selected Aurora as its technology provider to help develop and commercialise L4 Class 8 trucks in North America,” writes Sterling Anderson, Co-Founder of Aurora.

“Our first commercial truck with Volvo will be adapted to the requirements of the Aurora Driver, and tailored to the demands of an autonomous hub-to-hub use case.”

These vehicles will combine Volvo’s technology with the Aurora Driver, which the company claims will allow the truck to detect objects well beyond 300 meters, into a compelling and scalable logistics platform.

“Creating a viable autonomous on-highway offering requires close partnerships with both customers and tech partners to develop the needed capabilities,” said Nils Jaeger, president of Volvo Autonomous Solutions, in a statement.

“This exciting partnership brings our goal of transport as a service an important step closer and will accelerate our commercial offer for hub-to-hub applications in North America.”

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