Self-driving tech firm Aurora has partnered with Toyota and Denso to design and build a fleet of autonomous taxis based on the Sienna minivan. The first batch of vehicles is expected to have started testing by the end of 2021.
“Toyota has an unparalleled legacy, engineering expertise, leadership, and ability to deliver high-quality, affordable, and reliable vehicles,” Aurora CEO Chris Urmson said in a statement. “They’re also the preferred vehicle brand for transporting riders on ride-hailing networks, so we’re excited and honored to work with them to unlock driverless mobility services with the Aurora Driver.”
Aurora has struggled to find its place in the fast-paced automotive market. Founded in 2017, the company teamed up with Volkswagen to launch a self-driving taxi service, only to part ways two years later. Aurora also signed an investment deal with Hyundai in 2019.
That same year, Aurora turned its attention to long-haul trucking as the first application for its autonomous technology. In December 2020, Uber invested $400 million in the company, which in turn took over Uber’s driverless vehicle project.
These “strategic partnerships,” according to Aurora, will eventually turn independent transportation dreams into reality: Global manufacturing partners Toyota and Denso help to build the product, while Uber makes it easy to deploy at scale.
“By combining our expertise and know-how in vehicle control systems, mass-production, Connected Car technology, and our advanced safety support systems with Aurora’s industry-leading approach to self-driving technology, we aim to commercialize and deliver safe, high-quality, and affordable autonomous ride-sharing vehicles and services,” Toyota operating officer Keiji Yamamoto said.
That’s the idea, at least, but it’s unclear exactly how Aurora’s taxi service will operate. In the meantime, the firm is looking to expand its team “to help us solve one of the biggest challenges of our generation.” Visit the Careers page to find open positions across the country.