Less than a decade after Google launched the age of the self-driving car, most of the main players have made some long-term commitments—not in the name of love, but to ensure success. With few exceptions, the companies eager to turn robots loose on our streets can’t go through life alone. None have the particular combination of manufacturing, software, and customer-facing expertise this work demands.
The hookups between the software whiz kids and the folks with the factories are especially hot and heavy. In 2016, General Motors bought startup Cruise. Last year Ford invested $1 billion in Argo AI, and industry supplier Delphi went home with MIT spinoff Nutonomy. Now one of the last significant startups without a manufacturer to call its own has found its beloved.
Two beloveds, actually. Pittsburgh-based Aurora Innovation announced today it has signed deals with both Volkswagen and Hyundai to get its self-driving software into commercial service.
“Our mission is to deliver self-driving technology safely, quickly, and broadly. And to do that, we needed to find automotive partners that had global scale,” says cofounder and CEO Chris Urmson.
Mark Bergen and Dana Hull have more.