Aurora, a startup company led by three veterans of Google, Tesla, and Uber, has signed deals with both Volkswagen and Hyundai with the goal of putting autonomous vehicle technology on the market within three years — and doing so "quickly, broadly and safely."
The partnerships will pair Aurora's sensors and software — its machine learning and artificial intelligence technology — with two companies that together produce more than 15 million vehicles each year.
Self-driving Hyundai models will be on the market by 2021, the company says.
It's part of "the reinvention of mobility and the automobile," Volkswagen Chief Digital Officer Johann Jungwirth said in a news release.
Aurora was co-founded by CEO Chris Urmson, the former chief technology officer for Alphabet's self-driving cars project; Chief Product Officer Sterling Anderson, who directed Tesla's Autopilot feature; and Chief Technical Officer Drew Bagnell, who helped to start both Carnegie Robotics and Uber's Advanced Technology Center. The company is based in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Palo Alto, California.
The planned autonomous vehicles will include "fully self-driving pods, shuttles or delivery vans and self-driving trucks without a cabin," Urmson says in a blog post about the new venture.
At first, the vehicles will be tested in pilot programs, with the goal of establishing how a Mobility-as-a-Service, or MaaS, transportation system might work. Such systems are often described as combining elements of public and private travel services.
Outlining Volkswagen's hopes, Jungwirth said:
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