Autonomous Vehicle

Aurora to deploy 20 driverless trucks on Dallas-Houston route

Date: April 30, 2024.Aurora Innovation Inc. is planning to deploy 20 driverless trucks to haul freight along Interstate 45 between Dallas and Houston. This initiative is set to begin in less than nine months, marking a significant milestone in autonomous transportation.

The broader vision for these self-driving trucks is to operate nearly continuously, without the need for breaks, thereby speeding up the delivery of goods and potentially reducing costs. These trucks come with advanced sensors, including 25 laser, radar, and camera sensors, enabling them to navigate obstacles and maintain consistent speeds, potentially resulting in fuel savings

Safety is a paramount concern, and Aurora’s testing has demonstrated that if a maintenance issue arises while one of its trucks is on the freeway, the vehicle will automatically pull over and call for assistance remotely. Despite the innovative technology, a poll by AAA in January revealed that 66% of American drivers would fear riding in an autonomous vehicle.

In the broader scope, within three to four years, Aurora and its competitors aim to have thousands of self-driving trucks on America’s public freeways. These operations have chosen Texas as the starting point because its generally mild weather facilitates the truck’s performance.

While the prospect of 80,000-pound driverless trucks on highways may seem daunting. Companies like Aurora argue that their autonomous vehicles will be safer than those driven by humans. The truck’s sensors can detect objects at greater distances than human eyes can, and they are not susceptible to fatigue, distractions, or impairment.

Approaching the end of a seven-year science experiment, the transition to practical use would witness these autonomous trucks carrying loads for partners such as FedEx, Uber Freight, Werner, and others. This marked a shift from the initial focus on autonomous ride-hailing in cities. The deployment of self-driving trucks became the first widespread application of autonomous vehicles on public roads.

The transportation industry is experiencing changes with advancements that have the potential to alter how goods delivered across the nation. However, due to limited federal regulation, the responsibility for ensuring the safety and readiness of autonomous semis for public road use will mainly fall on the companies themselves.

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