German automotive supplier Continental and US company Aurora are collaborating to create a driverless truck system in the United States. Their goal is to provide freight forwarders and fleet operators with a financially attractive, self-driving truck solution that covers maintenance and repairs on a “hardware-as-a-service” basis, similar to the way the computer industry operates. According to their press release, autonomous trucks could drive from Berlin to Madrid or from Dallas to Los Angeles in less than 24 hours, as driving and rest times are not an issue. Fuel consumption is also said to be reduced by around ten percent, while delivery times are up to three times shorter than what is achievable with human drivers.
A highly automated driver support system will be provided by Aurora. The company has already developed hardware and software known as Aurora Driver, which they describe as “industry-leading.” Aurora is also working with other companies such as Toyota, FedEx, Volvo Trucks, and Uber. The highly automated driver support system, Aurora Horizon, is already being modified for development into a fully autonomous system. Continental, on the other hand, will be responsible for creating a secure and reliable vehicle application, including a new backup system, that can be used with the autonomous truck.
The partnership has several benefits. First, driving and rest times can be ignored, which means faster delivery times. Second, fuel consumption is expected to decrease by 10%. Third, they claim delivery times may be reduced by up to three times. Fourth, automation enhances efficiency, enabling higher utilization.
The software, hardware and maintenance services related to autonomous truck systems will be charged to the user on a kilometer basis, as part of a hardware-as-a-service model. Continental and Aurora plan to begin joint manufacturing in the United States in 2027. Continental also agreed to support the Aurora Driver throughout its lifecycle.