DALLAS – Aurora Innovation, Inc. has unveiled its test fleet of its autonomous custom-designed Toyota Sienna vehicles featuring Toyota’s Vehicle Control Interface (VCI) and “Sienna Autono-MaaS” (S-AM) platform. The Toyota S-AM will serve as the backbone platform for the expected launch of Aurora Connect, its autonomous ride-hailing product.
The company has worked with Toyota Motor North America’s (Toyota) engineering team over the last year to establish and refine requirements to prepare this vehicle model platform to integrate with the Aurora Driver. Since unveiling its prototype last fall, it has further refined the Aurora Driver hardware while Toyota built a larger fleet of platform vehicles at its facilities, customized for the requirements of its customers, including Aurora.
Aurora is autonomously testing the fleet on highways and suburban streets in Texas, where the Aurora Driver regularly handles Texas U-turns, high-speed merges, and lane changes, including those in response to vehicles on the shoulder. The Aurora Driver is also able to react to various forms of construction, stop-and-go traffic, inclement weather, and can detect pedestrians, motorcyclists, traffic lights, and more.
In honor of the milestone, Toyota executives were invited to be the first to experience the Aurora Driver in the Toyota S-AM. The riders were picked up at Toyota’s Headquarters and then driven autonomously on a portion of the route that would normally be taken to the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. The route showcases Aurora’s ability to safely operate at highway speeds, a key technical differentiator that allows it to prioritize popular and lucrative rides, like trips to the airport, when it launches Aurora Connect.
“We congratulate Aurora on reaching their milestone of integrating its Aurora Driver technology onto our Toyota Autono-MaaS platform vehicle,” said Ted Ogawa, President and CEO of Toyota Motor North America. “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.”
“Toyota’s engineering team is truly world-class. Experiencing the result together this week was special and is a testament to our progress and respect for one other,” said Sterling Anderson, Chief Product Officer & Co-Founder at Aurora. “We’ve designed and delivered a purpose-built test fleet specifically for a ride-hailing experience that’s comfortable, convenient, and safe, and we look forward to sharing more on our progress soon.”
The company’s investment in a Common Core of Technology allowed this fleet to “inherit” all of the learnings and capabilities of its next-generation trucks. In fact, the fleet of modified Toyota Sienna vehicles achieved “parity” with its trucks within just six weeks of commencing on-road testing. The company plans to continue adding vehicles to the fleet and testing in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in preparation for commercial launch.