August 27, 2021
Self-driving technology firm Aurora has announced the development of its next generation of hardware as part of its path to commercialization. The new hardware will debut in commercial pilots this year and lay the foundation for the launch of the company’s trucking and ride-hailing businesses in 2023 and 2024, respectively.
The company said innovations include more powerful sensors condensed into a modular, automotive-grade rack, along with a new powerhouse computer. The integrated hardware suite is made up of cameras, radar, and lidar sensors that aim to be stronger than the sum of its parts, whether it’s detecting pedestrians more than 300 yards away, registering the speed of oncoming traffic, or driving through dust clouds and bright sunsets.
“Aurora has years of collective industry experience in developing world-class hardware teams and products,” said Sandor Barnay, senior vice president of hardware at Aurora. “Aurora’s hardware fuses the best of many generations of hardware development from Aurora and Uber ATG into a single, optimized, deeply integrated system, setting us up for the successful deployment of the Aurora Driver.”
The company said its hardware leadership team is able to build cost-effective high-performance cameras that incorporate the latest top-of-the-line camera technology. The hardware comes with new 360-degree cameras, which combine the most advanced automotive-grade sensor technology with custom-designed lenses. The cameras allow the Aurora Driver to detect objects even in challenging lighting situations, such as facing headlight glare and sun glare, and entering and exiting tunnels.
Aurora’s FirstLight Lidar accurately measures the position and velocity of every point it observes to build a dynamic 3D representation of the world for the Aurora Driver. By leveraging FirstLight’s data, the Aurora Driver software can track the velocity and compute the acceleration of vehicles more than 400 meters away faster than ever before, creating more time for braking and responding safely, Aurora said. The company said adding OURS’ silicon photonics technology has laid the groundwork to mass-manufacture lidar sensors at an even lower cost when the Aurora Driver is deployed at a commercial scale.
Additional innovations include:
- Imaging radar that is more precise than traditional radar, providing the Aurora Driver with high resolution that complements data it receives from cameras and lidar. The improved imaging radar sensors can produce true and precise 3D images in challenging weather conditions such as rain, dense fog, and snow.
- A powerhouse computer with a 5x increase in processing power, built-in redundancy for additional safety, and the networking power capacity to operate safely without a safety driver.
The company said its next-generation hardware is designed to operate all of its vehicle platforms, including trucks, light-duty vans, and passenger cars. Before the launch of the company’s autonomous trucking and ride-hailing businesses, the feature-complete hardware will debut on Aurora’s Class 8 trucks in commercial pilots, and on the company’s test fleet of Toyota Siennas, scheduled to hit public roads at the end of 2021.
For more details on Aurora, visit its website here.