Uber Technologies and self-driving technology company Aurora are going to expand their driverless pilot program in Texas. The expansion is to meet the increase in demand during the holiday season. The recently launched 600-mile commercial lane between Fort Worth and EL Paso in Texas will be used for the expansion.
The changes will support customers of the logistics business Uber Freight as it ships goods this holiday season, as stated by Aurora. Uber Freight is a platform that connects shippers who need goods moved with available truck drivers. The companies launched their pilot program about a year ago to autonomously transport goods between Dallas and Houston.
“We’re crafting Aurora Horizon to help carriers of all sizes alleviate some of the supply-chain pressures that typically accompany (holiday season),” Aurora co-founder Sterling Anderson said. Aurora Horizon is a truck-specific self-driving product. Autonomous goods hauling has been seen as the future of logistics as it could increase truck utilization and boost transportation frequency between terminals. Human truck drivers are not allowed to drive more than 11 hours per day in the United States. Aurora Innovation, which also counts FedEx and Toyota Motor as partners, looks to launch the Aurora Driver self-driving platform at the end of 2024.
“The holidays are a challenging time for the logistics industry. We’re crafting Aurora Horizon to help carriers of all sizes alleviate some of the supply chain pressures that typically accompany them,” said Sterling Anderson, Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder of Aurora. “Deploying our technology with the Uber Freight team over this 600-mile trip at the peak of the season is an outgrowth of our mutual commitment to ensure that Aurora Horizon can enable carriers of all sizes to safely and efficiently haul freight 24/7/365 on the Uber Freight network.”
As online shopping increasingly becomes the status quo around the holidays, so has the potential for delays, errors, higher pricing, and low product inventory. During peak season, it’s expected that approximately 1 billion packages will be shipped within the U.S. alone. To help Uber Freight customers meet demand, Aurora’s autonomous trucking service, Aurora Horizon, is making weekly hauls of consumer and wholesale goods across the state with its latest generation of trucks, based on PACCAR’s Peterbilt 579M. Aurora’s autonomous technology is being developed to offer carriers a reliable supply of “drivers.” Testing and validating it during one of the busiest times of the year highlights its potential to respond quickly as demand rises and supply chain needs fluctuate.