Pittsburgh-based Aurora delays launch of self-driving trucking, citing supply shortages
Supply chain disruptions forced Pittsburgh-based Aurora Innovation to postpone the commercial launch of its autonomous trucking system for a year. The company now expects its Aurora Horizon platform to hit the market in late 2024.
Anyway, the company of 1,600 employees reported to shareholders Wednesday that it continues to execute key technical capabilities on schedule while launching new partnerships with major freight carriers and contracting with suppliers.
“It’s through these advancements that we see a clear path to a driverless future as we move closer to the launch of our first commercial product,” Aurora co-founder and CEO Chris Urmson said during the talk. an earnings call for the second quarter of this year. .
The Aurora Horizon trucking program will not turn a profit until it is deployed at scale without the presence of human drivers, Aurora vice president of finance Richard Tame said on the call Wednesday. to the results.
He said Aurora, which is headquartered in the Strip District, had $1.4 billion in cash and short-term investments on its balance sheet at the end of June. He predicted that these funds will last until mid-2024, which means the company will likely need to raise more money before Aurora Horizon is ready to launch.
But given Aurora’s cash position today, Tame said, “We have the ability to wait and see what happens in the markets.
“I hope the macro environment improves and then progresses along [our] roadmap should help us raise capital at a price we find attractive,” he said.
Like many autonomous vehicle companies, Aurora has yet to earn significant revenue as it still prepares its technology for widespread commercial use.
Since going public in November through a reverse merger with a Special Acquisition Company, or SPAC, its market valuation has gone from $13 billion at $3.1 billion. But on Wednesday, Urmson said market turmoil could create an opening in a crowded industry.
“I think the current financial climate is going to help separate the wheat from the chaff a bit,” he said. “Teams that have the ability to actually deliver this product will be able to raise capital when needed at some point in the future. And they will deliver on [their] product. And we see that helping clear some of the playing field, frankly.
Aurora is testing its autonomous trucking system on Texas highways. Urmson said the company also received approval to test in Arizona and sought approval from New Mexico.
Aurora announced on Wednesday that it had doubled the number of kilometers traveled during tests on commercial routes between the first and second quarters of the year. Between April and June, the system passed key milestones, such as braking on long descents, aborting lane changes when necessary, and dealing with its own faults.
Aurora simultaneously expanded operations in conjunction with FedEx and launched new pilots with carriers Schneider National, Inc. and Werner Enterprises.
The company is also partnering with Toyota and Uber to develop an autonomous transportation service. But Urmson said that project, called Aurora Connect, has taken a back seat for now.
“We still see the value in the ridesharing market,” he said. But he added: “We think this focus is important, and especially in this economic climate. So we’re going to put more emphasis on trucking and making sure that product gets to market.