FedEx is partnering with self-driving vehicle startup Aurora and Fortune 500 truckmaker Paccar to test autonomous trucking operations, the companies announced Sept. 22.
The partnership will aim to advance autonomous technology in linehaul operations—the movement of freight between distant cities. This is an industry-first three-way collaboration between a logistics provider, autonomous technology developer and a truck manufacturer.
“FedEx was built on innovation, and we always anticipate what’s next to be future-ready,” Rebecca Yeung, vice president of advanced technology and innovation at FedEx, said in a statement. “This is an exciting, industry-first collaboration that will work toward enhancing the logistics industry through safer, more efficient transportation of goods and we are pleased to collaborate with other industry leaders—Aurora and Paccar—on this endeavor.”
The new commercial pilot project will test autonomous operations on FedEx parcel routes on the I-45 corridor between Dallas and Houston, completing the nearly 500-mile round trip route multiple times each week. The trucks will operate autonomously, with a backup driver for additional safety.
“As leaders in our respective fields, we have critical and unique perspectives on how to develop and deploy safe, self-driving truck solutions for this industry,” Sterling Anderson, chief product officer at Aurora, said in a statement. “This collaboration allows for the creation of a cohesive and integrated product and service. We believe there is no other credible way to deliver this complex and valuable technology at scale.”
Earlier this year, Aurora and Paccar announced they were partnering to develop self-driving trucks. This latest collaboration will incorporate the logistics expertise of FedEx to help accelerate the deployment.
“The speed and quality of progress we’re making with Aurora to develop self-driving trucks is impressive. This industry collaboration is an important step toward delivering these trucks at scale,” John Rich, Paccar chief technology officer, said in a statement.At the end of 2023, Aurora plans to launch its trucking business and haul loads autonomously between terminals without a safety driver. Developing Aurora’s trucking service and Driver-as-a-Service business model alongside a trusted network such as FedEx that understands how to safely optimize logistics through efficiency and speed will help support Aurora’s success, the company noted.