Aurora has reached a deal with Toyota and auto-parts supplier Denso to develop and assessment vehicles equipped with the self-driving startup’s technology, is starting a fleet of Toyota Sienna minivans.
Engineering units from Aurora and Toyota will work together to design and improve the self-driving Sienna minivans with an aim to start testing a fleet following the adjournment of 2021, the companies said Tuesday.
The announcement follows Aurora’s possession of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, which spun out from Uber in 2019 after the human rights unit caused$ 1 billion in funding from Toyota, Denso and SoftBank’s Vision Fund. The acquisition, which closed January 20, was a complex deal in which Uber handed over its equity in ATG and endowed $400 million into Aurora. Uber now comprises a 26% stake in the combined company. Toyota also has a minority stake in Aurora as a result of the acquisition.
The partnership announced Tuesday is similar — at least in part — to an agreement reached in 2018 between Toyota and Uber to generate an on-demand autonomous ride-hailing service to grocery. Under that slew, which included a $500 million investment by Toyota, the companies agreed to integrate Uber ATG’s self-driving technology into the Sienna minivans for use in Uber’s ride-hailing network. The vehicles later could be owned and operated by third-party fleet directors, Toyota and Uber ATG said at the time.
Aurora co-founder and prime make policeman Sterling Anderson emphasized that this is a new partnership and not just an extension of Toyota’s arrangements with Uber ATG.
Toyota and Aurora declined to disclose items such as the size of the team or whether there were financial incentives restrained to the deal, making it difficult to determine the scope of the collaboration.
However, Aurora describes this as a long-term strategic deal and laid down by an daring see for a partnership that spreads far beyond testing. Aurora said that the seam development work in 2021 will lay the groundwork for the mass production and opening of these vehicles with Toyota on ride-hailing structures, including Uber’s. Aurora said it will also explore mass production of autonomous driving factors with Denso and the creation of a services stage with Toyota that could manage financing, assurance and maintenance of the self-driving vehicles.
Anderson noted that the development of these business downstream assistances such as fleet management has become increasingly important for the company following its agreement with trucking firm PACCAR and now Toyota.
” We need a vehicle, we need a motorist and the work requires support services ,” Anderson said in a recent interview.” One of the areas that we’re exploring with Toyota as part of this, is the scaled deployment of Toyota-built vehicles, powered by the Aurora driver, supported by a combination of Aurora’s support services as well as Toyota’s network. This is one of the areas where Toyota’s scale becomes so important to us .”
The path from testing to commercialization is a long one, riddled with possible move jolts, including technological and regulatory challenges, rivalling with challengers over skilled workers and raising fairly asset. Achieving these doesn’t always equate to success as operating an autonomous ride-hailing network has its own set of obstacles. The upshot: Aurora’s partnership with Toyota is no guarantee.
Still, fastening in a partnership with a large automaker is still important for Aurora.
” Toyota has an unparalleled gift, engineering expertise, leadership and ability to deliver high-quality, affordable and reliable vehicles ,” Aurora co-founder and CEO Chris Urmson wrote in a blog upright Tuesday.” They’re likewise the preferred vehicle brand for ferrying equestrians on ride-hailing structures, so we’re elicited and honored to work with them to unlock driverless mobility services with the Aurora Driver .”
Urmson added that Aurora’s development work on highway driving to support its first commercial produce, a driverless truck,” will too be critical for safely moving people, as a significant fraction of ride-share bookings today necessitate the ability to drive over 50 mph .”
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