Aurora CEO Chris Urmson weighs in on Argo AI shutdown


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Aurora’s premier product, the Aurora Driver, can be utilized to autonomously function passenger automobiles, mild industrial automobiles and heavy-duty vans. | Supply: Aurora

Ford and VW introduced this week that the businesses could be ending their funding in Argo AI, a self-driving firm with partnerships with Lyft and Walmart, and that the corporate could be shutting its doorways.

A few of Argo AI’s round 2,000 staff would both be receiving provides from Ford, whose president and CEO mentioned the corporate anticipated to make a number of hundred provides, or VW. The remaining could be let go and obtain severance packages that embrace insurance coverage and two separate bonuses. 

Chris Urmson, the co-founder and CEO of Aurora, a self-driving firm that has partnerships with Toyota and Uber, shared a observe to Aurora’s e-newsletter concerning the current information. 

Urmson’s total observe could be learn beneath. 

Sorry to interrupt your commonly scheduled programming, however main information was introduced within the self-driving business yesterday and I needed to share my perspective.

Argo is shutting down.

First, my ideas are with Bryan Salesky and the whole Argo crew—this business is small, everyone knows one another nicely, and many people right here at Aurora have labored with the Argo crew, watched them develop, and seen the influence they’ve made. It’s disappointing, and it’s unlucky, and their absence will likely be felt in Pittsburgh and within the bigger AV business.

However I additionally need to be clear that this isn’t a sign {that a} future with self-driving know-how isn’t actual or imminent. The truth is, it’s fairly the alternative. Waymo not too long ago introduced the growth of their robotaxi fleet to LA. Cruise is charging for his or her driverless robotaxi rides in San Francisco.

And as for us? We’ve lengthy believed that long-haul trucking is one of the best ways to enter the market, and that will probably be the primary vertical inside the autonomous car business to generate vital income, in order that has been our focus.

We’re making autonomous freight deliveries day by day for pilot clients like FedEx, Werner, Schneider, and Uber Freight. The truth is, in case you bought a FedEx parcel that bought shipped from Houston, there’s an opportunity that it sat in one in every of our vans on the way in which to you.

We’ve got shut, collaborative partnerships with PACCAR and Volvo Vehicles (which collectively produce virtually 50% of all Class 8 vans in the USA) and with main transportation leaders like Toyota and Uber. These firms see the long-term worth of autonomous automobiles, and our independence offers them the flexibility to put money into it with out shouldering the price of creating this know-how alone.
Lastly, now we have a transparent path, plan, and timeline to market.

I’ve been on this business for almost 20 years, and on this second, proper now, I imagine now we have by no means been nearer to delivering self-driving automobiles to the world. Extra importantly, this know-how has by no means been wanted extra. Over 40,000 individuals died in automotive crashes final yr, up 10% from the earlier yr. Trucking is an over $700B enterprise, transferring over 72% of the nation’s freight by weight, however we simply don’t have sufficient drivers to maneuver all of it. It’s additionally harmful – there are virtually half one million accidents involving vans a yr. Self-driving know-how will not be a science mission. It is among the subsequent main technological improvements that can remodel our society—for the higher—and we’re making constant, regular, and thrilling progress in the direction of getting there.

So, with that, I flip you again to The Dashboard and to some significant updates from the final month—together with extra element about how our autonomous trucking service Aurora Horizon will work for purchasers after we launch and the way we prepare the Aurora Driver to soundly reply to pedestrians.

Oh, and yet another factor. We’re hiring! We’ve got over 160 positions obtainable throughout the nation, and we want a crew with the experience, dedication, and fervour for taking up this once-in-a-generation alternative head-on. If that sounds such as you and also you need to be on the crew that will get this know-how on our roads and transforms transportation, please come be a part of us.

—Chris Urmson, CEO, Aurora


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