Autonomous vehicle technology company Aurora Innovation has unveiled a fleet management system that can be used to help optimize operations for the startup’s trucking and ride-hailing products.
Aurora announced the platform, dubbed Aurora Beacon, alongside its first quarter earnings report on Wednesday, in which the company presented investors with a series of milestones on the road to commercializing its truck product Aurora Horizon and the launch of its ride-hail product, Aurora. Connect, both of which rely on the same autonomous stack.
Once Aurora hits commercialization, Beacon will give customers access to real-time data from their vehicles, such as health, status and current location, as well as real-time alerts on things like vehicle status, ETA, traffic conditions, mission updates and major weather conditions, the company says. All of these tools will complement Beacon’s ability to plan, dispatch, monitor and coordinate fleets, which Aurora already uses for fleet operations today.
A real-life example that Aurora gave is in the case of a tire with a low air pressure; an alert is sent to the fleet manager, who can then refer the vehicle to a nearby service center.
The startup today has active commercial pilots with FedEx, Uber Freight and, most recently, Werner Enterprises — all three of which relate to autonomous freight transportation in Texas, but it’s not clear yet if the company currently uses Beacon with those customers. However, the lessons learned from those partnerships helped build Beacon, the company said.
“This level of visibility and control over the real-time location, status and objectives of autonomous vehicles will help Aurora’s customers maximize their utilization and responsiveness to changing conditions and network demands,” Aurora said in a statement.
Beacon also provides remote support in the event that an Aurora Driver-powered vehicle encounters a situation it’s never encountered before and can’t figure out, such as being stopped by law enforcement, something AV peer Cruise had to deal with recently.
Ultimately, as the company approaches commercial implementation, the plan is for Beacon to be offered alongside the Aurora Driver, the company’s self-driving system, as a product that can be integrated via API into the existing systems of carriers, fleets and networks. Aurora. †
Aurora Q1 2022 Financial
Aurora closed the first quarter of the year with an operating loss of $143 million, down from $192 million in the year-ago quarter. Similarly, net loss this quarter was $77 million, down from $189 million last year.
The company closed the quarter with nearly $42 million in “collaborative revenue” for development work related to the company’s agreement with Toyota, which will support its planned ride-hailing product. In March, the company unveiled its test fleet of six Toyota Sienna robotic axes, which will be tested on high-speed routes in Texas.
Ultimately, collaboration revenues aren’t revenues, and as a pre-revenue company, Aurora declined to provide any guidance, allowing the company to complete its call, including Q&A, in about 30 minutes.
Aurora closed the quarter with $1.5 billion in cash and short-term investments, money the company will use to continue developing the Aurora Driver for large-scale commercial deployment, with a focus on first-to-market for its truck product. The company also expects to receive an additional $52 million in cash from Toyota during the rest of the year, which should help it further develop its ride-hailing product, according to Richard Tame, Aurora’s CFO.
Aurora shares are up slightly after hours and are currently trading at $4.10 at the time of writing.