Aurora Expands Commercial Operations Through Partnership with Hirschbach, Refrigerated Trucking Leader
3 May 2023
Today, Aurora Innovation, Inc. and Hirschbach Motor Lines, Inc., a leader in refrigerated trucking, announced they began a commercial pilot this week to test and safely deploy autonomous trucking for refrigerated cargo between Dallas and Houston. Aurora’s ability to support critical, time-sensitive refrigerated goods expands the network of carriers and shippers who can benefit from the advantages of its autonomous trucking service, Aurora Horizon.
“Since joining Aurora’s Industry Advisory Council, I have had a front row seat to the positive impact of autonomous technology,” said Richard Stocking, co-CEO of Hirschbach. “Autonomous trucks will provide safe and reliable capacity to supplement our existing network of incredible company drivers. We will identify opportunities that will expand autonomous capabilities across Hirschbach’s network that will hopefully supplement our drivers from monotonous stretches of highway and allow them to spend more time with their families.”
“This new pilot, on the Peterbilt 579 upfit with the Aurora Driver, demonstrates the increasing maturity of our operations as we expand our product support to a wider number of carriers and shippers,” said David Maday, Senior Vice President, Business Development & Product Strategy at Aurora. “We are extremely excited that Hirschbach has the confidence in Aurora’s technology and our ability to deliver perishable goods safely and on time.”
Autonomously delivering perishable goods and preventing spoilage requires mature operations and sophisticated technology. Aurora’s new, next-generation trucking terminal in Dallas is designed to support these advanced commercial driverless operations to maximize efficiency for a variety of customers, including refrigerated trailers. Aurora Driver-equipped tractors with Hirschbach refrigerated trailers started to make the 400-mile round-trip along the I-45 corridor between Aurora’s Houston and South Dallas terminals this week.
Refrigerated autonomous trucks capable of operating at nearly all hours of the day have the potential to move goods in record time, increase the shelf life of fresh produce, drive down the costs of goods for consumers and ultimately lead to fresher food and less waste. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates 30-40 percent of nationwide food supply results in the spoilage of perishable goods, which occurs, among other ways, at various stages of the production and supply chain.
Aurora recently announced the Aurora Driver is Feature Complete and has entered its final phase of refinement and validation ahead of commercial launch in 2024. By the end of the year, Aurora expects to close the Aurora Driver Safety Case for driverless operations on its launch lane between Dallas and Houston. In parallel, the company will continue to mature its operations as pilot load volume is expected to increase to 100 loads per week by the end of 2023.