On January 3, officials from the autonomous vehicle technology startup, Aurora, announced new partnerships with two titans of the automotive industry: Volkswagen and Hyundai.
Aurora, founded just last year, has locations in San Francisco and Palo Alto, California, as well as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Win-win deals like these allow automakers to bypass the hassle of creating their own self-driving software while also allowing autonomous technology companies like Aurora to see their technology installed in a car without having to invest in vehicle production.
“Our mission is to deliver self-driving technology safely, quickly, and broadly. And to do that, we needed to find automotive partners that had global scale,” said Aurora co-founder and CEO Chris Urmson.
Neither Aurora nor the carmakers have disclosed any of the monetary agreements thus far. Both Volkswagen and Hyundai leaders plan to use the partnership to establish Level 4 autonomy or “high automation” levels in various facets of the companies’ fleets.
By 2021, Hyundai officials plan to bring self-driving vehicles to mass market with Aurora’s help. The newly established team will begin building and testing new vehicles—Hyundai’s fuel-cell car will be the first to undergo the self-driving transformation.
Equally, Volkswagen engineers will strive to implement autonomous technology in all of their car models. However, Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) vehicles will take first priority on VW’s list of goals. The auto manufacturer will use Aurora’s software to establish the mobile vehicle service, and to breathe life into SEDRIC, a MaaS concept car that can be summoned on a whim.
“Our vision is ‘Mobility for all, at the push of a button’ . . . Mobility also for children, elderly, sick, and visually impaired people,” said VW Chief Digital Officer, Johann Jungwirth. "Working with Aurora will give us a giant leap forward in our mission to become the world’s leading provider of sustainable mobility.”
Over the last two years, similar partnerships have sprouted between global car-making giants and budding technology firms. Manufacturers like General Motors and Ford have already struck deals with smaller autonomous technology companies.
The news regarding Volkswagen and Hyundai will only tighten the already heated global race to develop completely autonomous vehicles.