Late last year, it looked like Uber’s self-driving cars were finally ready when autonomous vehicle technology startup Aurora took over its Robocars unit as part of a $ 400 million deal. But now Aurora is reviving a driverless hail service.
Aurora announced Tuesday that it will design, build and test a fleet of Toyota Sienna self-driving minivans by the end of this year. The vehicles will be equipped with the autonomous Aurora Driver system through a further partnership with the auto parts manufacturer Denso. While Aurora has previously tested on Chrysler Pacifica minivans, this will be the first fleet of autonomous Sienna’s.
Look out for more self-driving minivans.
With the Aurora driver, the car can use computers, sensors, radar, LiDAR, cameras and more to see what is going on around the car and in the car. Aurora has focused on developing self-driving trucks more recently, but with the Uber partnership, it has broadened its perspective on ridesharing.
After the self-propelled Siennas are tested and ready, Aurora plans to launch a fleet to work with hail networks, including Ubers. It will be a few more years to reach everyday Uber users.
As soon as Aurora and Toyota launch the fleet, self-driving Uber cars will be back on the road again, albeit in a different form than before. In 2018, Uber suspended its autonomous car program after a woman in Tempe, Arizona was killed when an autonomous Uber hit her. The Uber security driver checked her cell phone before the fatal accident.