Paccar, Aurora to Develop Self-Driving Big Rigs

Truck-maker

Paccar Inc.

will work with autonomous vehicle startup Aurora Innovation Inc. to develop self-driving heavy-duty trucks, the latest in a growing series of deals aimed at bringing automation to the business that moves most of the freight in the U.S.

Aurora’s partnership with Bellevue, Wash.-based Paccar announced Tuesday will integrate the startup’s technology, a mixture of software and hardware that helps vehicles see and navigate the world, with the manufacturer’s autonomous vehicle platform technology. Paccar isn’t taking a stake in the Mountain View, Calif.-based company, whose backers include Amazon.com Inc.

Paccar and Aurora will work together to develop, test and prepare for sale autonomous versions of certain models of Paccar’s Peterbilt and Kenworth brand trucks, with the goal of bringing self-driving trucks to market “in the next several years,” the companies said.

“The most important part is reaching a level of safety and reliability,”

Kyle Quinn,

Paccar’s chief technology officer, said in an interview.

The agreement follows similar partnerships announced last year between the trucking arm of

Daimler AG

and Waymo LLC and between Volkswagen AG trucking subsidiary Traton Group SE and autonomous vehicle startup TuSimple Inc., which also struck a deal in 2020 with U.S. truck-maker

Navistar International Corp.

to jointly develop self-driving trucks.

Using self-driving technology to haul freight could help trucking companies cut costs and shipping times now limited by rules that restrict truckers’ hours behind the wheel. Proponents say autonomous big rigs could also improve highway safety, although technical and regulatory challenges loom before self-driving trucks could be widely deployed.

Aurora has been testing its autonomous vehicle hardware and software in prototypes using Paccar trucks, and last year in Texas began doing commercial trucking runs in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. The company is also pursuing other applications for its technology and has signed deals with auto makers

Hyundai Motor Co.

and

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

NV, which is now known as Stellantis NV after Fiat Chrysler combined with

Peugeot

maker PSA Group.

Last month Aurora said it would acquire

Uber Technologies Inc.’s

self-driving car unit, Advanced Technologies Group, or ATG, bringing the startup’s valuation to about $10 billion. That deal closed Tuesday, the company said.

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Write to Jennifer Smith at [email protected]

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