A few self-driving trucks on the road may reveal wondrous, innovative new technology. But to deliver broad societal benefit – making our roads safer, our supply chains faster and more efficient, and ultimately better access to mobility and goods for everyone – you need a critical ingredient: scale.
Scaling makes innovation accessible – and access drives societal transformation.
Today, trucks with Auroras hardware and software system – the Aurora Driver – already haul commercial freight on public roads in Texas. But this progress is only a taste of its potential. To truly revolutionize the transportation space, the self-driving industry needed a force multiplier to scale this technology broadly.
For this, Continental and Aurora have entered an exclusive partnership in April 2023. The aim is to bring self-driving technology on a commercial scale by jointly developing, manufacturing, and servicing future generations of the autonomous hardware kits for the Aurora Driver. Continental delivers the entire hardware set as well as a new fallback system.
Delivering commercial scale
Our partnership will break down to the following core responsibilities:
- Manufacturing of Aurora Driver hardware kits: Continental and Aurora will develop, manufacture, and assemble the Aurora Driver hardware kits, which includes technologies such as automotive lidar, radar, cameras, and high-performance computers. As part of this work, Continental will industrialize these systems, meaning, the process of strengthening its reliability and assembly design in preparation for large-scale manufacturing.
- Providing redundant systems: Continental contributes a new fallback system which covers the full chain of effects. In the unlikely event of a failure in the primary autonomy system, the fallback system is designed to ensure a driverless truck can continue the driving task until it reaches a safe position.
- Integrating and supplying with manufacturers: Both organizations will work directly with vehicle manufacturing partners to ramp up the production of vehicles integrated with the Aurora Driver hardware kits and new fallback systems. They will then work with the OEMs to align production schedules and design for ease of lineside installation.
- Servicing and maintenance: Customers can rely on Continental’s depth of expertise to address customer service, maintenance, and warranty needs related to the Aurora Driver hardware kits. Once the Aurora Driver hardware has completed its product lifecycle, Continental will be responsible for its decommissioning, salvaging, and replacement.
Initial development efforts are already underway to achieve key milestones in support of production ramping up in 2027.
Validation of an emerging industry
Until this point, the emerging self-driving industry has had the twin challenge of both developing the technology, while also trying to scale it in a meaningful way. Continental’s partnership with Aurora addresses both these issues through an innovative industry-first approach.
Traditional business models operate with assembly manufacturers paying for parts as they go. Continental and Aurora’s partnership will operate as a hardware-as-a-service business model. This means both Continental and Aurora’s revenue will come from every mile driven by our product.
In other words, we’re both invested in our customers’ success – and we all win when our vehicles’ wheels are moving.
This partnership represents a massive validation in Continental, Aurora, and the future of autonomous vehicles.
Earning customers’ confidence
Today’s freight industry is strained by a combination of network inefficiency, labor shortages, collisions, hours of service limitations, and driver turnover. We believe self-driving technology can address these challenges.
The partnership between Continental and Aurora marks a powerful statement in our commitment to building and industrializing a product based on the needs of freight and future ride-hailing customers.
Together, we will create a product with tremendous value over the coming years: safe, efficient, and reliable autonomous trucking that will improve road safety, increase fleet utilization, and reduce operating costs. And over time, we’ll leverage this remarkable technology to strengthen the passenger mobility space, increasing safety, accessibility, and comfort.
Continental brings more than 150 years of industrial powerhouse experience, with a massive automotive product portfolio. Additionally, Aurora’s work with some of the world’s most reputable auto manufacturers in the transportation ecosystem ensures that customers will have the highest levels of support, expertise, and focus on safety.
Together, we can transform transportation, make our roads safer, and pave the way for an autonomous future.