In early 2021, Toyota and self-driving car development company Aurorait would see the two companies combine forces to help refine and prepare Aurora’s technology for public use. Now, a little over a year later, we’re starting to see some of what’s to come.
Aurora unveiled its carpool test fleet this week. Based on the Toyota Sienna minivan, these vehicles are equipped with the company’s Aurora Drive platform, a hardware solution that includes the sensors and auxiliary elements needed to enable vehicle autonomy. From the single image provided by Aurora, it will be fairly easy to distinguish these vehicles from regular old Siennas, given the number of sensors attached to the top and side of the van. The Aurora vinyl on the side could also reveal it.
Eventually, Aurora wants its Drive hardware to power a fleet of autonomous transportation vehicles. For now, companies are still in the testing phase. Aurora is currently testing its fleet on high- and low-speed roads around Texas. According to the press release, the vehicle is capable of dealing with U-turns, freeway crossings and lane changes, in addition to reacting to construction work and bad weather.
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To help show how far development has come, Aurora took select Toyota executives on a self-guided round trip from Toyota headquarters to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. Aurora noted that this trip, which takes place largely on the highway, helps set it apart from other similar offerings from competitors, most of which are limited to low-speed jaunts around town.
“Toyota’s engineering team is truly world-class. Experiencing the result together this week has been special and a testament to our progress and mutual respect,” Aurora co-founder Sterling Anderson said in a statement. communicated. “We have designed and delivered a purpose-built test fleet for a comfortable, convenient and safe ridesharing experience, and we look forward to sharing more information on our progress soon.”
Aurora is still working hard to prepare its Aurora Connect service for public use. The vehicles will continue their testing program until the company deems the fleet ready. While there are no dates attached to its launch, we’re excited to see what’s next.