TEXAS — We already have self-driving cars, but could self-driving trucks be the next thing rolling on Texas roadways? 

Self-driving tech company Aurora is using Texas as a testing ground to launch its driverless 18-wheelers. 

“Really, our mission is to deploy the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly,” said Jason Leu, vice president of Aurora Services.

Aurora has been working on autonomous semi-trucks for nearly a decade. The company plans to roll out its first fleet of fully autonomous trucks across Texas by 2024.

“We have the first commercial-ready route for self-driving trucks. So this is over in between Dallas and Houston, I-45. We plan to launch commercial driverless operations at the end of 2024 between those cities,” Leu said. 

He oversees operations of the Dallas and Houston terminal.

The autonomous lane on I-45 between Dallas and Houston will not be a separate lane but is on the actual highway. The Pittsburgh-based company set up a shop in Coppell earlier this year. 

Texas highways are considered a majority artery in the freight industry.

“More freight moves in Texas than any other state in the United States, particularly on the I-45, where we are going to be launching initially. There's a significant amount of freight that moves along that corridor,” Leu said.

According to Aurora, there are trucks already on the road with the self-driving technology but with a safety operator. Companies such as Uber Freight and FedEx area already using the tech.

Truck safety companies like Netradyne believe autonomous technology can benefit the industry.

“If these autonomous technologies are successful, theoretically, this is going to reduce supply chain costs, which is going to theoretically help trucking become more competitive,” said Austin Schmidt, who leads Netradyne’s marketing.

As Aurora focuses on driverless trucks, Leu says their top priority is safety.

“We're laser focused on fine tuning that technology, just to make sure that's appropriately ready for public roads,” he said.

This story has been updated to reflect that Aurora is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (11/27/2023)