March 23, 2022
Aurora Innovation has unveiled its test fleet of custom-designed autonomous Toyota Sienna vehicles, which feature Toyota’s Vehicle Control Interface (VCI) and the Sienna Autono-MaaS (S-AM) platform. The Toyota S-AM will serve as the backbone platform for the expecting launch of Aurora Connect, its autonomous ride-hailing product, Aurora said.
The company said it has worked with Toyota Motor North America’s engineering team over the last year to establish and refine requirements to prepare the vehicle model platform to integrate with Aurora Driver. Since unveiling the prototype last fall, Aurora has refined the Driver hardware while Toyota built a larger fleet of platform vehicles at its facilities, customized for requirements of its customers, including Aurora.
Autonomous testing is taking place on highways and suburban streets in Texas, where the Aurora Driver regularly handles Texas U-turns, high-speed merges and lane changes, including those in response to vehicles on the shoulder, Aurora said. The Driver software can also react to various forms of construction, stop-and-go traffic, inclement weather, as well as detect pedestrians, motorcyclists, traffic lights, and more.
To honor the fleet launch milestone, Toyota executives were invited to be the first to experience the Aurora Driver in the Toyota S-AM. Riders were picked up at Toyota’s headquarters and then driven autonomously on a portion of the route that would normally be taken to the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. Aurora said the route showcases its ability to safely operate at highway speeds, a key technical differentiator that allows it to prioritize popular and lucrative rides, such as trips to the airport.
“We congratulate Aurora on reaching their milestone of integrating its Aurora Driver technology onto our Toyota Autono-MaaS platform vehicle,” said Ted Ogawa, president and CEO of Toyota Motor North America. “The route represented what we would expect going to the airport in the future, and we look forward to seeing Aurora’s future deployment plans.”
Aurora said its investment in a Common Core of Technology (see video) allowed the fleet to inherit all of the learnings and capabilities of Aurora’s next-generation trucks. In fact, the fleet of modified Sienna vehicles achieved “parity” with Aurora’s trucks within six weeks of commencing on-road testing, Aurora said. The company added that it plans to add vehicles to the fleet and test more in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to prepare for its commercial launch.
For more details on Aurora, visit its website here.