Aurora, a start-up by a former Google employee, Chris Urmson, has sealed the deal with Volkswagen Group and Hyundai to work on its project of developing fully autonomous cars. Urmson, the main engineer to build the code that runs Google’s autonomous software, started his own company in 2016 along with Sterling Anderson, Tesla’s former head of autopilot, to develop both the software and the hardware for the self-driving cars.
Aurora has been working with Volkswagen for twelve months, six of which it has spent integrating its software and sensors with the VW vehicles. But it is Hyundai that has already narrowed down its choice of vehicles to test out the technology commercially. Hyundai will combine the innovative software with its Hydrogen fuel cell SUV. However, both companies aim to test prototypes by the end of 2018 and introduce Aurora-powered vehicles commercially by 2021.
Although Aurora is a comparatively new start-up, Urmson’s credibility has played a major role in attracting many A-players in the world of tech to the company. Talking about Aurora’s aim, Urmson has said:
At Aurora, we’re building a driver. We’re not building a driver assistance system.
The company is focusing on levels 4 and 5 of self-driven cars. A level 4 self-driven car can ride itself without a driver through certain known geographical locations, while a level-5 car will drive itself to any part of the world.
I think it’s a great idea to have a dedicated team working just on Level 4 and 5 because that’s when we will really see the disruption of the automotive industry. – Johann Jungwirth, Chief Digital Officer, VW Group
When asked about what is keeping them linked with Aurora in spite of knowing that they were not exclusive and that Aurora would continue to work with competitors, Jungwirth had the following to say:
“It’s not just the founder team. The team they’ve been able to hire, the talent they are attracting? They are the best in the world. The progress they have made in such a short time frame, it’s just amazing.”
Aurora Innovations’ driverless car is still in its initial stages as a company, but with their innovative software, they are sure to create a breakthrough in the world of autonomous vehicles.