Paccar launches autonomous truck pilot program with Aurora and FedEx

September 24, 2021

Tyson Fisher

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If you see a Paccar tractor with an Aurora logo pulling a FedEx trailer on I-45 between Dallas and Houston, take note of the latest autonomous truck pilot program.

On Wednesday, Paccar announced that it has collaborated with FedEx and autonomous driving technology company Aurora for a commercial pilot program of autonomous trucks in linehaul trucking operations. The companies are hailing the trucking, logistics and autonomy partnership as a first of its kind in the industry.

Autonomous trucks in the pilot program began moving on Sept. 22. Paccar pilot trucks are equipped with Aurora Driver technology. Those trucks will haul FedEx loads in a 500-mile round trip between Dallas and Houston on Interstate 45. Although the trucks will operate autonomously, a backup human driver will remain behind the wheel for safety measures.

Bellevue, Wash.-based Paccar and Pittsburgh-based Aurora began working together in January to develop, test and commercialize autonomous trucks for Peterbilt and Kenworth.

For the most part, Paccar is combining its Autonomous Vehicle Platform with Aurora’s Driver technology.

“As leaders in our respective fields, we have critical and unique perspectives on how to develop and deploy safe, self-driving truck solutions for this industry,” Sterling Anderson, Aurora chief product officer, said in a statement. “This collaboration allows for the creation of a cohesive and integrated product and service. We believe there is no other credible way to deliver this complex and valuable technology at scale.”

However, the safety driver in the autonomous trucks may soon go away. Aurora also announced that it will launch a trucking business at the end of 2023. After that is established, the company will haul loads autonomously between terminals without a safety driver.

“Developing our trucking service and driver-as-a-service business model alongside a trusted network that understands how to safely optimize logistics through efficiency and speed primes us to build a more deeply integrated service with the Aurora Driver for fleets safely and quickly,” Aurora said in a statement. LL

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Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.