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FedEx, Aurora to launch autonomous-truck routes in Texas

By Levi Sumagaysay

Fully autonomous trucks -- with safety drivers, for now -- to shuttle between Dallas and Houston

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 (FDX), 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. (PCAR)

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 (7203.TO) 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. (UBER); 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 (RTPY).

See: Aurora to go public in SPAC deal, promises autonomous vehicle by 2023

-Levi Sumagaysay

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

09-22-21 1102ET

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