Aurora expands autonomous freight pilot with FedEx in Texas

Aurora Innovation, an autonomous vehicle technology company, has expanded its self-driving freight pilot with FedEx to include a new lane from Fort Worth to El Paso, Texas.

The startup has been hauling freight for FedEx between Dallas and Houston since September 2021, which has involved making the 240-mile trip every night. The new lane challenges Aurora’s trucks to a much longer journey of about 600 miles, on which they will operate on a weekly basis, according to the company.

Texas has become a battleground for autonomous freight companies looking to commercialize, with competitors Waymo Via, Kodiak Robotics and TuSimple all piloting their vehicles on many of the same highways.

Aurora has been hauling freight between its new terminals in Fort Worth and El Paso since March, the company said. Shipments carried out on its first commercial lane between Dallas and Houston have all been delivered on time 100% of the time, according to Aurora, which noted that it has provided thousands of FedEx customers with autonomously transported packages.

Aurora’s trucks, which are based on the new Peterbilt 579, are capable of operating during various weather conditions and all hours of the day and night. To date, Aurora and FedEx have completed a total of 60,000 miles with zero safety incidents, according to Aurora.

“Some time ago, I was asked why the general public should care about autonomous trucking. This is why. In six months of working with FedEx, we’ve safely, reliably, and efficiently transported packages for tens of thousands of FedEx customers,” said Sterling Anderson, Aurora co-founder and chief product officer, in a statement. “This lane expansion came ahead of schedule and we’re delighted to continue building the future of trucking with one of the country’s biggest and most important transportation companies.”