According to the TechCrunch website, the start-up Aurora Innovation has just been authorized to transport passengers in its autonomous vehicles – Chrysler Pacifica minivans – as part of tests on public roads. The information was confirmed by a spokesperson for Aurora Innovation who did not provide details concerning the place and dates of the tests with passengers.
This authorization was issued by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), an organization regulating private public services (electricity, telecommunications, water, gas, transportation, etc.) in the State of California.
Different from the Department Vehicle of Motors (DMV) which only issues driving licenses for autonomous vehicles, the CPUC requires a driver for security and free for passengers, in addition to the permit issued by the DMV. To date, only four companies, AutoX, Pony.ai, Waymo, and Zoox, have received a CPUC license.
Waymo, Tesla and Uber alumni
The start-up founded by Sterling Anderson, the former head of autonomous driving at Waymo, Drew Bagnell, the former chief developer of the Autopilot at Tesla and Chris Urmson, the founder of Uber research center, does not intend to develop a robot taxi service like Waymo One.
The start-up Aurora Innovation specializes in the development of a delegation of driving software called “Aurora Driver” (Aurora driver in French). To carry out its tests, Aurora has a fleet of a dozen vehicles, the latest of which is Chrysler Pacifica minivans, the same as those used by Waymo.
To date, Aurora Driver has already been integrated into six different vehicle platforms from several manufacturers: sedans, SUVs, utility vehicles and even heavy goods vehicles.
Round table at $ 530 million
In February 2019, the start-up made the news by raising $ 530 million to finance its development. Among the biggest investors, Amazon. This round table-valued Aurora Innovation at more than 2.5 billion dollars.
But last June, a blow with the departure of Volkswagen preferring to sign with Argo AI, another start-up which is, for its part, funded largely by Ford. To replace the German manufacturer, the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) group, hence surely the use of Chrysler Pacifica minivans.