FedEx Corp. and self-driving vehicle startup Aurora Innovation Inc. are launching a pilot program for autonomous-truck shipments between Dallas and Houston, with the companies announcing Wednesday what they called a first-of-its-kind partnership involving the two companies and a truck maker.
“This is an exciting, industry-first collaboration that will work toward enhancing the logistics industry through safer, more efficient transportation of goods,” said Rebecca Yeung, vice president of advanced technology and innovation at FedEx
in a news release.
The initial fleet will involve a “modest” number of autonomous trucks and use backup drivers for safety at first, an Aurora spokeswoman said. The trucks will make the nearly 500-mile round-trip along the I-45 corridor multiple times a week, according to FedEx.
“At the end of 2023, we will launch our trucking business and haul loads autonomously between terminals without a safety driver,” Aurora said. The original-equipment manufacturing partner for this pilot is truck maker PACCAR Inc.
It’s just the latest partnership by San Francisco-based Aurora on its road to commercializing its self-driving technology — and going public.
The company this year has said it is working with Toyota Motor
North America and parts supplier Denso Corp.
on bringing self-driving vehicles to the masses and ride-hailing; unveiled a Toyota Sienna minivan prototype for that effort with Uber Technologies Inc.
; and is teaming up with Volvo
on autonomous trucks.
Last year, Uber transferred its self-driving business Advanced Technologies Group to Aurora in a deal that involved a $400 million investment by the ride-hailing giant into the startup.
Aurora is scheduled to go public this year in a merger with special-purpose acquisition company Reinvent Technology Partners Y