Autonomous trucking technology startup Aurora Innovation on Monday released its Aurora Driver Beta 5.0, the latest version of its integrated hardware and autonomy system, to its autonomous trucking fleet in Texas, inching closer to commercial launch while it continues to increase weekly hauls of freight for pilot customers like FedEx, Uber Freight, Werner and Schneider.

“We are already demonstrating the value an autonomous trucking product can bring to our pilot customers as we continue to deliver loads across Texas each day,” said Chris Urmson, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Aurora. “Launching our latest beta release moves Aurora one step closer to a commercial-ready product and helps to prepare us for the scaled deployment of Aurora Horizon across the country.”

Aurora Driver Beta 5.0 unlocks new capabilities like detecting and appropriately responding to emergency vehicles like ambulances, fire engines, and law enforcement vehicles; safely re-entering traffic after resolving a system problem that prompted the Aurora Driver to pull over to the shoulder; and navigating lanes with temporary barriers, a typical scenario in construction zones.

Aurora says it expects to reach “Feature Complete” at the end of Q1 2023, “which will indicate the capabilities required for commercial launch have been implemented in the Aurora Driver and all policy interventions have been removed,” the company said. After reaching Feature Complete, the Aurora Driver will undergo an extensive validation phase where its capabilities will be refined and readied for driverless commercial operation, which is set to launch in 2024. Aurora Driver Beta 5.0 is also powering Aurora’s ride-hailing fleet, which continues testing in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The Aurora Driver is the autonomy system architecture of Aurora Horizon, Aurora’s subscription-based autonomous trucking service. In the past year, Aurora introduced five beta releases. The initial beta release introduced foundational driving capabilities such as merging and lane-changing at highway speed and unprotected left-hand turns. Aurora built upon these in 2022, unlocking increasingly complex capabilities each quarter, including:

  • Beta 2.0: Construction zone navigation – reacting to temporary signs that signal temporary speed limits, closed lanes, and the presence of construction workers.
  • Beta 3.0: Fault Management System (FMS) – identifying and responding to a system problem by safely pulling over to the shoulder.
  • Beta 4.0: Unexpected and potentially dangerous situations – circumventing debris on the road.