The deal with VW could expand to put Aurora software into other vehicles (delivery vans, trucks, shuttles), and use cases (urban and long haul shipping, micro-transit). The Hyundai agreement will put Aurora’s software into the Korean automaker’s cars, including some custom-developed rides that will roam cities all on their own.
This article speaks nicely about the partnership between Aurora Innovation and two car companies (Volkswagen and Hyundai) to produce autonomous cars.
The specifics of these deals are sparse, but the basic impetus is clear: Aurora can make cars drive themselves, but it can’t make cars. And while VW has worked on various automation schemes since the late 1980s, it hasn’t shown much progress on fully driverless vehicles. Hyundai has also been lagging, and a partner like Aurora should help bring it toward the front of the pack.
Aside from this news, I think that there is another aspect of this partnership. No giant automobile manufacturers manage to bring a self-driving car to the market without the help of companies able to produce the necessary systems to turn a normal car into an intelligent one. Which means that the car companies, regardless of the funds invested in research and development, did not shape the appropriate teams to produce by itself autonomous cars.
One of Aurora’s founders comes from Tesla, one from Google, and one from Uber.