Paccar inks self-driving partnership with startup

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Updated Jan 20, 2021

Paccar announced Tuesday it plans to work with autonomous vehicle upstart Aurora Innovation on the development self-driving trucks and integrating Aurora's self-driving technology – including hardware, software and operational services – with the truck maker's autonomous-enabled vehicles and aftermarket parts distribution, finance and other transportation solutions.

The collaboration covers everything from component sourcing and vehicle technology to the integration of Peterbilt and Kenworth vehicles with the Aurora Driver platform, and also includes vehicle validation at the Paccar Technical Center and production support in Paccar plants.

Many of Aurora's test vehicles are already Paccar trucks, and Aurora Co-founder and CEO Chris Urmson noted that the partnership "brings us one step closer to unlocking the autonomous freight market, and delivering goods to those who need them.”

Aurora last year acquired Uber's autonomous driving division, and Urmson once led Alphabet Inc.'s autonomous driving unit – a division which would later became Waymo. Kenworth T680 and Peterbilt Model 579 trucks utilizing the Aurora Driver are expected to be deployed in North America "in the next several years" the companies said.

The vehicle-agnostic Aurora Driver consists of lidar, camera and radar sensors that perceive its surroundings, software that plans a safe path through it, and the computer that powers and integrates them both with the truck.

Paccar becomes the latest truck OEM to latch on to a technology-enabled third party. Navistar last year announced a minority stake in autonomous truck retrofitter TuSimple, and Daimler Trucks’ in 2019 acquired a majority stake in self-driving truck software developer Torc Robotics. Last year, Daimler Trucks also announced a global strategic partnership with Google parent Alphabet’s autonomous driving division Waymo – a partnership the companies hope lead to the deployment of autonomous SAE Level 4 technology.