Autonomous & Self-Driving Vehicle News: California, Aurora, Volvo, Renovo Motors, Foretellix & Plus

In autonomous and self-driving vehicle news are California, Aurora, Volvo, Renovo Motors, Foretellix and Plus.

AV EVs Only in CA by 2030

California will require all light-duty autonomous vehicles (AV) to emit zero emissions starting in 2030. On Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill sponsored by environmental groups that would eventually prohibit gas- and hybrid-powered autonomous vehicles from operating in the state.

Aurora News, Reddit Q/A,  & AutonomousTruck

Following its recent Aurora Illuminated Investor & Analyst Days, the self-driving company Aurora continues to share more about its cutting-edge technology and business model as Aurora executives speak at events throughout the country. The company – which announced earlier this summer its plans to merge with the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Reinvent Technology Partners Y (NASDAQ: RTPY) – expects to be listed on Nasdaq with the ticker symbol AUR before the end of the year.

Reddit AMA with Chris Urmson and Reid Hoffman

On Monday, October 4 at 3:00pm PST, Chris Urmson, CEO and co-founder of Aurora, and Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and Aurora investor and board member, will virtually answer questions about developing, deploying, and commercializing self-driving technology for both trucks and passenger cars. This will be hosted on the /r/IAmA subreddit.

Self-driving company Aurora hosted Aurora Illuminated, an immersive experience this week for investors and analysts, showcasing the company’s progress, technical expertise, and path to commercialization. Held at the company’s South Dallas Terminal in Palmer, Texas, attendees saw how the Aurora Driver operates in the real world as they rode autonomously along Interstate 45, a major freight corridor, in Aurora’s autonomous trucks.

“This is an exciting time for Aurora. Through close collaboration with our partners, we are delivering on key milestones on our path to market in both trucking and ride-hailing,” said Aurora co-founder and CEO, Chris Urmson. “This week in Texas, attendees experienced the Aurora Driver first-hand with rides in our autonomous trucks – a culmination of our company’s technology, partnerships, and focus on safety.”

Earlier this summer, Aurora announced its plan to merge with the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Reinvent Technology Partners Y (NASDAQ: RTPY). The company expects to be listed on Nasdaq with the ticker symbol AUR before the end of the year.

“We continue to be impressed with Aurora’s team and the progress they’re making with both their cutting-edge technology and their path to market,” said Michael Thompson, co-founder and CEO of Reinvent Technology Partners Y (RTPY). “Aurora Illuminated was an exciting showcase of how all of Aurora’s strengths come together to deliver the Aurora Driver and what we expect to be a scalable business.”

In addition to investors and analysts, the company invited automotive partners, customers, government officials, and its Safety Advisory Board to Aurora Illuminated.

Aurora-powered trucks autonomously hauling goods on Texas highways

Guests rode in an autonomous Peterbilt 579 on a stretch of Interstate 45, driven by more than 8,500 conventional trucks a day. The route included onramps, offramps, and the surface roads leading up the entrance of the interstate. The route allowed the Aurora Driver to show how it routinely navigates construction, emergency vehicles, and even the occasional pedestrian walking a dog on a road adjacent to the interstate. The route is driven autonomously with safety drivers present.

The autonomous Peterbilt 579 is tightly integrated with the Aurora Driver, which includes Aurora’s purpose-built hardware kit, designed for performance, reliability, and scale. Deeply integrated with Aurora’s software, Aurora’s industry-leading FirstLight Lidar, high-resolution cameras, and imaging radar can see further, process data quickly, and respond with high accuracy for safe driving in varying conditions and speeds.

Prior to Aurora Illuminated, the company had already driven more than 4.5 million on-road miles, as well as billions of effective miles in Aurora’s Virtual Testing Suite.

Marrying rigorous engineering with advanced machine learning, Aurora showcases how its innovative software and hardware power the Aurora Driver

“Aurora’s approach to developing a self-driving product is one that is designed to be both safe and scalable—an approach that’s driven by data, harnesses the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence, and leverages the strengths of a world-class team of software and hardware engineers,” said Aurora co-founder and Chief Scientist, Drew Bagnell.

The company highlighted key innovations including:

  • Advancing the Aurora Driver through valuable data that drives Machine Learning & AI: Aurora has built important key foundational tools that enable fast interactions and rapid innovation and advancement to power the Aurora “Data Engine” as it collects, mines, labels, and feeds into models training on-road data. This fast iteration cycle provides the teams with the information they need to rapidly advance the capabilities of the Aurora Driver.
  • Designing purpose-built hardware for performance, reliability, and scale: Whether it’s Aurora’s powerful computer or advanced FirstLight lidar sensors, the company’s tightly integrated hardware and software teams jointly design high-performance, custom-built hardware that meet the specific needs of the Aurora Driver.
  • The power of Aurora’s perception system: Leveraging deep learning & early sensor fusion to see the world in full 3D and at long ranges: Aurora’s state-of-the-art perception system provides the Aurora Driver with advanced situational awareness, made possible through its innovative approach to the integration of deep learning and probabilistic state estimation.
  • Aurora Atlas: Lightweight, scalable, high-definition maps for safe autonomous driving: Aurora is approaching HD mapping in a unique, innovative way that is built for rapid expansion through custom-built machine learning tools and automation.
  • Aurora’s simulation engine: Accelerating development and validation through scalable simulation in virtual worlds: Simulation testing, which drives the development of the Aurora Driver, is the quickest and safest way to train and test our self-driving technology.
  • Interactive forecasting and learned decision making: Using machine learning to make better driving decisions: Aurora’s learned, interleaved approach to forecasting and planning allows the Aurora Driver to reason about how other vehicles behave and make safe, predictable decisions on the road.

Aurora shows Volvo VNL truck and Toyota Sienna, both powered by the Aurora Driver

Aurora continues to make progress towards deploying an autonomous trucking business by late 2023 and ride-hailing in late 2024 through deep partnerships with truck manufacturers, PACCAR and Volvo Trucks, and automaker, Toyota.

The company displayed two different vehicle prototypes, progress it is making through the Aurora Driver Development Program, which will ultimately deliver vehicles that move goods and people autonomously through the world:

  • The Volvo VNL truck, powered by the Aurora Driver, is the design prototype of Volvo’s first autonomous truck, intended for commercial production. On-road testing of the fully integrated VNL will begin in 2022.
  • The Toyota Sienna, powered by the Aurora Driver, is the prototype of Toyota’s first “Sienna Autono-MaaS” intended for mass production. Aurora is currently integrating its Driver into the vehicle and will have a testing fleet of about a dozen vehicles out for testing and validation in Pittsburgh, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Texas.

Aurora’s industry-leading safety work is critical to deploying self-driving technology at scale

Safety plays a key role in everything Aurora does, from how it tests and develops its technology to how it plans to deploy the Aurora Driver at scale. During the event, the company highlighted its industry-leading work, including its Safety Management System and transparent and collaborative approach to working with private and public partners. It also featured an interactive demo of its Safety Case Framework, an imperative component for any company looking to operate without a safety driver and safely deliver commercial-ready self-driving vehicles at scale. Aurora is the only company to share a framework that addresses both autonomous trucking and passenger mobility.

Over the next few weeks and months, Aurora will continue to share more about its work as the company deploys its technology safely, quickly, and broadly.

 

Volvo Autonomous Solutions Milestone

Volvo Autonomous Solutions and Aurora have achieved the next milestone in their partnership to jointly develop on-highway autonomous trucks in the U.S. A prototype of Volvo Trucks’ flagship, long-haul VNL model, integrated with the Aurora Driver technology, was revealed today, representing an important step towards launching fully autonomous Class 8 trucks commercially in North America.

Building on a rich history of safety and technology expertise, Volvo Autonomous Solutions is paving the way towards offering Volvo autonomous trucks to customers, as well as delivering comprehensive and seamless Transport as a Service (TaaS) solutions for autonomous commercial trucks, tailored to specific customer needs.

“Volvo Autonomous Solutions is proud to take our first, major steps toward the autonomous Volvo VNL in North America,” said Nils Jaeger, president of Volvo Autonomous Solutions. “Our long-standing customer base and their priorities are at the forefront of our path forward in shaping autonomous trucking. We strongly believe in a future in which safe, sustainable, efficient transport solutions are essential for any society to prosper, and autonomous commercial trucking is an important piece of that transformation.”

While research and development are supported by global team efforts, on-highway autonomous truck applications are also being designed and engineered in the U.S., in preparation for future production at Volvo Trucks’ New River Valley Assembly Operations in Dublin, Virginia.

Safety is paramount for autonomous vehicles and is at the core of all the Volvo Group’s innovations. The Volvo Group brings nearly 100 years of experience as an industry leader in safety standards and producing trusted, quality products. The transformation to autonomous is rooted in this experience and builds on proven safety technologies already in place on the Volvo VNL, including Volvo Dynamic Steering (VDS) and automated transmission (I-Shift). These existing technologies, along with a number of other advanced vehicle features, create a redundant safety-based solution in the autonomous truck’s core systems to ensure safe operations are in place. The foundation of these proven Volvo Trucks’ safety systems combined with the Aurora Driver technology ensures the highest safety outcome at every step of the development process.

“We are proud that our Volvo VNL model will serve as the foundation for the development of North American autonomous trucks to offer our customers the next generation of safe, efficient and sustainable transport solutions,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president of Volvo Trucks North America.

Contributing to a more sustainable society is another driving force of Volvo Autonomous Solutions’ strategy. Bringing autonomous Volvo on-highway trucks to market will complement today’s transport system to help meet the increasing demand for moving goods while minimizing the environmental impact.

“We believe that autonomous solutions will complement the transport system of today and will be implemented where there is a purpose and where it makes sense,” said Sasko Cuklev, head of on-road solutions for Volvo Autonomous Solutions. “It is important for us to be part of this transformation, and together with our customers and partners, to be a leader in building up the new ecosystem.”

As Volvo Autonomous Solutions and Aurora continue to make progress with the Volvo VNL prototype digitally revealed today, the partners are working toward the next step in implementing their hub-to-hub transport vision in North America. This includes identifying specific regions and routes to serve as the initial hubs for on-road highway testing. In addition, Volvo Autonomous Solutions is working closely with customers to understand their current and future needs, priorities and demands, in preparation for piloting the autonomous Volvo VNL in on-road, hub-to-hub transport scenarios, as well as the eventual adoption of autonomous technology commercially.

While the transformation to an autonomous trucking future will not happen overnight, Volvo Autonomous Solutions will continue to further increase the speed of development to support customers’ changing needs across many segments and markets – and ultimately bring the benefits of autonomous transport solutions to the public with safer, more efficient and more sustainable commercial transport of goods across the U.S.

Woven Planet Holdings, Inc. (“Woven Planet”), a subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation (“Toyota”), announced the acquisition of Renovo Motors, Inc. (“Renovo”), a pioneering Silicon Valley-based automotive operating system developer. Renovo develops specialized software, which will advance Woven Planet’s mission to enable the most programmable vehicles on the planet with Arene and realize the broader vision of “Mobility to Love, Safety to Live.”

The acquisition will add depth to Woven Planet’s resources, particularly for Arene, Woven Planet’s open vehicle development platform, by:

  • bolstering their elite team with top-tier engineers who have deep expertise in building a complete software-defined vehicle infrastructure stack
  • providing a platform and software that are proven to work across multiple original equipment manufacturer (OEM) platforms, well-aligned with the goal of establishing a hardware-agnostic operating system
  • bringing a robust, established technology ecosystem of industry partners

Following on the heels of recent acquisitions made this year, Renovo complements Woven Planet’s strategy to bring together world-class talent and expertise in automated driving technology, next-generation mapping, and vehicle operating systems, ensuring that Woven Planet can power the future of mobility.

Foretellix & NI Solutions

Foretellix, a leading automated driving systems product development, verification, and validation solution provider, announced a strategic collaboration to enhance the safety and reliability of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous vehicles (AVs). Together, the companies will deliver new integrated solutions to help engineers get high-quality autonomous driving systems to market faster and at lower development costs, while seamlessly integrating test data and tools across the software verification and validation workflow.

Automotive OEMs face the need to test a near infinite number of scenarios to ensure the safety and reliability of today’s complex vehicles. As companies race to deliver on the promise of autonomy, the need for a holistic view across the software and hardware validation workflow is critical to efficiently identifying which test scenarios are required across each phase of product development.

The collaboration brings together Foretellix’s platform, which delivers scenario generation, metrics, and analysis on the millions of driving scenarios across all testing platforms, with NI’s solutions for hardware and software in the loop and ADAS data recording. Combined, these technologies will accelerate the verification and validation phases of the product development life cycle and drive efficient test coverage across the entire software workflow, including software and hardware in the loop and road test. This in turn enables the massive scale of test scenarios needed to get safe and reliable AVs on the road.

“When it comes to the future of AVs, the stakes have never been higher,” said Ritu Favre, Executive Vice President and General Manager of NI’s Semiconductor and Electronics; Aerospace, Defense, and Government; and Transportation Business Units. “Safety continues to be one of the biggest hurdles on the path to autonomy. Foretellix’s approach to address the massive scale of test scenarios that vehicles may encounter, coupled with the use of big data analytics to drive test throughout the development lifecycle, makes this collaboration critical to getting safe and reliable AVs on the road. It also underscores NI’s vision to engineer a connected software workflow using test data, analytics and automation to help customers turn test into a competitive advantage and deliver better products without sacrificing quality.”

“Ensuring the safety of ADAS and AVs is key to the future of the automotive industry. The partnership between NI and Foretellix joins our expert teams in harnessing the best-in-class technological solutions to meet our shared vision of scalable and metric-driven testing. We look forward to drawing upon NI’s test expertise and broad adoption across the automotive supply chain as we work together to help our customers to bring about safe and efficient autonomous systems,” said Ziv Binyamini, CEO and co-founder of Foretellix.

Plus SPACS with Hennesy Cap

-Plus (formerly Plus.ai), a global provider of self-driving truck technology that recently disclosed its proposed business combination with Hennessy Capital Investment Corp. V (NASDAQ: HCIC), announced today that Plus has delivered the initial production batch of PlusDrive autonomous driving units to FAW in order for FAW to integrate the units and launch China’s first driver-in autonomous trucks.

The delivery is part of an agreement with FAW in which Plus sells PlusDrive units to FAW, which will handle the installation of the autonomous driving technology on their factory production line. FAW will leverage its extensive sales and service network to manage the sales and maintenance of the autonomous trucks. FAW and Plus will work together to update and maintain the autonomous driving technology behind PlusDrive.

 

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