Aurora, the self-driving startup from Silicon Valley founded by former executives from Tesla, Uber, and Google, has released what it believes is the industry’s first tool to assess if and when autonomous trucks and cars are safe on public roads without a human can use the wheel.
“We believe this is the only way to get a safe, marketable product,” said Chris Urmson, co-founder and CEO of Aurora’s new Safety Case Framework.
Aurora has set itself the goal of putting its self-driving system into commercial service in heavy trucks by the end of 2023 in collaboration with its partners PACCAR and Volvo Group.
The release of the safety tool, which provides a methodology and metrics for measuring progress from development to deployment, comes days after the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted an investigation into Tesla’s autopilot driver assistance capability after a series of Accidents involving Tesla has initiated models and emergency vehicles.
Urmson said Tesla’s recent NHTSA investigation had “no bearing” on Aurora’s decision to release its framework, which he described as a “structured approach” to testing and validating the safety of self-driving systems. It includes four levels of aspiration related to the safe development, testing, and assessment of Aurora’s self-driving systems, for which documentary evidence is required.
Urmson has had an ongoing dialogue with the U.S. Security Agency that dates back to when he ran Google’s self-driving car program, which has since been renamed Waymo.
Aurora has also had related discussions with professional organizations such as the Society of Automotive Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers to “examine different standards and approaches to safety.”
The five-year-old Bay Area company is slated to go public this year, with a pro forma market capitalization of $ 13 billion (approx.
Aurora’s early investors included Amazon, Hyundai, BMW, Shell, and SoftBank. Fund managers Fidelity, Baillie Gifford and T. Rowe Price support Aurora’s SPAC-backed reverse merger, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter.
© Thomson Reuters 2021