- Werner will pilot the use of autonomous vehicle startup Aurora Innovation's autonomous trucks for weekly runs on a 600-mile route from Fort Worth to El Paso, Aurora announced last week.
- The TL carrier will use the Aurora Driver autonomous system and Aurora Horizon trucks across the approximate nine-hour journey.
- Aurora is growing its C-suite as it expands. Kendra Phillips, a former Ryder CTO, has joined the AV start-up as vice president of logistics partner programs and operations.
The partnership will expand Aurora's customer-base to include multiple carrier types; the startup also hauls freight for FedEx, an LTL carrier, and Uber Freight, a digital brokerage.
Aurora is touting the pilot as an advancement for deploying its technology at scale. It has launched three new terminal sites in Fort Worth, El Paso and Houston to service its commercial lanes for Werner, FedEx and Uber Freight.
"We’re proud to partner with Werner to bring the game-changing safety, efficiency, and reliability benefits of self-driving technology to their business,” said Sterling Anderson, Aurora’s Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer. “We look forward to maturing and streamlining these hybrid operations and ultimately delivering a product that delivers value to Werner and its customers at a large scale.”
Aurora and Werner expect to increase the frequency of the loads in the coming months, as well as eventually phase out the use of safety drivers in the trucks.
"We look forward to building a hybrid world where drivers continue to haul freight while autonomous trucks supplement rising demand," said Werner CEO Derek Leathers.
The startup is seeking to expand the reach of its technology systems, including through its executive staff. Aurora appointed Kendra Phillips, former chief technology officer and vice president of new products for Ryder, as its VP of logistics partner programs and operations. Phillips will lead Aurora's rollout of Aurora Shield, a suite of operational tools and support services including roadside assistance and hardware support package, according to a press release.
"I am excited about the value and efficiency autonomous networks will bring to supply chains," Phillips said in a statement. "I have been in this industry for almost two decades and Aurora is best positioned to deploy a product at scale that delivers immense value to carriers, third-party logistics companies, and shippers."
Aurora joins a host of AV start-ups partnering with established brands, offering their automated systems and trucks to well-known carriers. Last week, Kodiak Robotics announced a partnership with U.S. Xpress to launch autonomous freight service between Dallas-Fort Worth and Atlanta using Kodiak trucks.