FedEx is expanding its pilot program with Aurora Innovation by creating an additional autonomous linehaul route between Aurora’s terminals in Fort Worth and El Paso, TX, making the 18 hour, 1,200-mile round trips weekly with a monitoring driver on board.
The two companies began the runs in March using new, modified Peterbilt 579 trucks, adding to another route between Houston and Dallas that started in September and is seeing daily traffic. Between the two lanes, FedEx and Aurora are reporting a 100% on-time record and 60,000 road hours logged with zero incidents.
“Some time ago, I was asked why the general public should care about autonomous trucking,” said Sterling Anderson, Aurora Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer in a statement. “This is why. In six months of working with FedEx, we’ve safely, reliably, and efficiently transported packages for tens of thousands of FedEx customers. This lane expansion came ahead of schedule and we’re delighted to continue building the future of trucking with one of the country’s biggest and most important transportation companies.”
Last month, Aurora launched a separate pilot program with Werner Enterprises, also initiating a run between Fort Worth and El Paso with full truckloads, vs. less-than-truckload (LTL) hauls for FedEx. It is also working with Uber Freight and Toyota, the latter to create autonomous Sienna SUVs for passenger transportation, and has developed its own fleet management system.
Meanwhile, Gatik, another autonomous vehicle technology firm working the middle mile, won approval from the state of Kansas for driverless vehicle operation in the state, having already been working with Walmart in Arkansas.
“Innovation is in our DNA – our culture drives us to think radically and differently, finding new ways to use technology to enhance safety, improve our operations, empower our team members and help our customers succeed,” said Rebecca Yeung, Corporate Vice President, Operations Science and Advanced Technology for FedEx. “Aurora has been a like-minded collaborator, helping us learn from and grow our autonomous trucking solutions.”