Aurora Joins Nasdaq As Supply-Chain Crunch Boosts Robot Truck Interest

I keep track of technological changes that transform transportation.

Aurora’s self-driving minivan and autonomous truck displayed in New York ahead of Nasdaq listing.

Aurora, the company behind autonomous vehicles and trucks, which began trading on Thursday, is gaining recognition among investors that its technology can enhance freight hauling and delivery and help ease the U.S. truck driver shortage, which can cause supply chain headaches.

The company’s shares, which have operations split in Silicon Valley and Pittsburgh, are listed on Nasdaq following the completion of the merger with special-purpose acquisition firm Reinvent Technology Partners Y, trading under the ticker “AUR. They ended the day at $9.60 in the red, down 3.1 percent. The SPAC transaction secured $1.8 billion of funding, as CFO Chris Urmson tells Forbes.

“The lack of drivers has been a problem for a long time and is likely to get worse. There’s a huge chance to have a massive effect,” he said. “For the investor base, seeing the impact (of autonomous trucks) writ so large, I think will help them understand the opportunity here as well.”

Aurora, The company, has robotic truck alliances that include PACCAR and Volvo and is also cooperating with Uber and Toyota on robotaxi-related projects. It is a competitor to truck tech company TuSimple which went public in August. It is trading around one week ahead of San Francisco-based Embark, also going to the general market this month. Together with Google Inc.’s Waymo and startups including Kodiak and Wasabi, all three are focused on an estimated $800 million U.S. trucking industry trying to cope with slowing ports and an inadequate supply of as many as 60,000 long-haul drivers in the estimation of the American Trucking Association.

Urmson, who was previously the director for the Google Self-Driving Car project, founded Aurora in 2017 along with Sterling Anderson, who led Tesla’s Autopilot program, and Drew Bagnell, a Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist who was a computer scientist was a former head of Uber’s self-driving vehicle team Uber ATG. Aurora purchased its Uber unit and formed a partnership with a ride-hail company in December of 2020. The company’s significant investors comprise partners Uber, Toyota, PACCAR, Volvo, Toyota, Reinvent Capital, and Baillie Gifford Morgan Stanley’s Counterpoint Global, T. Rowe Price, Fidelity, and Sequoia Capital.

Aurora co-founders Drew Bagnell, left, Chris Urmson, center, and Sterling Anderson at Nasdaq.

Aurora was initially founded on developing technologies for robotaxis and cars; however, it shifted to trucking last year, establishing the depot for robotic semis in Texas and planning to commercialize its technology in 2023. The company has shared that it plans to earn $123 million in 2025 and possibly $2 billion in 2027.

“We have an application of trucking in which the economic potential is huge, and the demand is immense. We have the advantage in technology to win in this market,” Urmson said. “With the partnership we have with Uber that came out of the (ATG) acquisition, we expect to be able to translate that technology quickly into ride-hailing.”

In contrast to the robotaxi services, Waymo is backed by General Motors Cruise, and Amazon’s Zoox is currently working on However, Urmson says Aurora will initially concentrate on high-speed highway trips like airport runs on the highway. Based on Uber data, the company can access around 40% of the ride-hail rides within large North American cities are on the road, with speeds exceeding fifty miles an hour.

“Sixty percent of the economics are associated with those trips,” Urmson states.

“So when we enter that market at the fastest speed and doing things that look like taking you between the hotel and airport located on the freeway, I think we’ll be able to have a truly.

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Adam Collins
Adam writes about technology, business and economics. With master's degree in Economics, he's presented six papers in international conferences. As a solivagant in the constant state of fernweh, curiosity is the main weapon in his arsenal.

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