The tech start-up has made strides with its testing on roads Texas.
Although enthusiasts may argue that self-driving cars ruin the purpose of owning a vehicle, numerous claims and investigations reveal that autonomy will lead to reduced road fatalities. Auto manufacturers are also backing this with a good few companies declaring that they'll even be held accountable if the software fails and someone is injured.
With that in mind, self-driving cars really can't get here any sooner. However, before we can get to the final product, extensive research and testing are still needed, not to mention the tricky legislative complications that surround accountability. NHTSA's recent amendment to the self-driving car rule book shows that the legalities surrounding the new and confusing tech will be ironed out in due time.
Aurora is a tech start-up who we first caught wind of last September that had the intention of being a driving force of automobility with its fleet of self-driving Toyota Sienna prototype taxis. After a lengthy research, development, and construction process, the small firm now confirms that its test cars are up and running in the state of Texas.
These vans are kitted out with the Aurora Drive unit, a combination of Toyota's Vehicle Control Interface and Aurora's "Sienna Autono-MaaS". This is the brain that manages the Sienna's self-driving capabilities. Aurora and Toyota's engineering team have been working closely together to develop the technology over the past year to ensure that this smart bus is up to the task of transporting passengers safely.
As of right now, the test units are being subjected to conclusive testing on the highways and suburbs of Texas. So far, there have been no issues with even the more intricate tasks of conducting a U-turn, high-speed merge, and lane change. It has even been able to detect vehicles driving on the shoulder and anticipate obstructions such as construction sites, stop-and-go traffic, and rough weather.
Most importantly, Aurora notes that there have been so disasters with regards to safely navigating around or through pedestrians, motorcyclists, or traffic lights. Confident in its abilities, the team sent a fleet of Siennas to collect some of Toyota North America's key figures from the company's headquarters and transported them to the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. The highway portion of this commute was done independently by the autonomous tech.
Ted Ogawa, President, and CEO of Toyota Motor North America was impressed by this showcase. Expressing his admiration, he says, "We congratulate Aurora on reaching their milestone of integrating its Aurora Driver technology onto our Toyota Autono-MaaS platform vehicle. The route represented what we would expect going to the airport in the future, and we look forward to seeing Aurora's future deployment plans."
The tests so far have been successful and Aurora says it has no plans of slowing the momentum down. It confirms that more test units will be added to its testing fleet in the Dallas-Fort Worth area before it orchestrates a commercial launch. Beyond this, it hopes that its tech can be applied to everything from delivery services to heavy-duty truck work.