Dec. 31, 2020 - 4 min read

Looking back on 2020 with some of the people behind our progress

Looking back on 2020 with some of the people behind our progress

Despite the challenges of 2020, we not only continued to make tremendous progress towards delivering the benefits of self-driving technology to the world, but also felt emboldened in our pursuit towards a safer, more efficient future. We all have a part in creating our future, and self-driving technology will be our contribution.

However, our progress is not without the hard work and dedication of our people. We have built an incredible team with a wealth of knowledge and expertise, and a drive to create a culture of excellence and collaboration at Aurora. Throughout this year our team has come together to listen, to support one another, and to lift each other up as we continue towards achieving our mission of delivering self-driving technology safely, quickly, and broadly. Our company values around focus, teamwork, and integrity are driven by our people, and these have guided us to our successes throughout this year. 

To that end, any talk about our progress is only complete when we highlight the people behind it. Throughout the year, we’ve showcased our people with our Aurora Voices and Women of Aurora series. To close out the year, we went back and asked some of our employees to share their greatest accomplishments of 2020.

Elise, our certified olive oil virtuoso and Vehicle Operations Team Lead in Pittsburgh embodied our company value #wintogether this year by expertly training our safety drivers in three locations across the country.

"A major part of my role is to run the training program for our safety drivers. A huge challenge of 2020 was adapting our training program, which relied heavily on in-person instruction and observation, to COVID-19 protocols so we could keep our safety drivers safe. Over the course of the year, I led the effort to create a virtual and socially distanced (when necessary) training program to support the growth of our vehicle operations teams in Palo Alto, Pittsburgh, and Dallas. It was a huge team effort and I’m looking forward to improving our training program and growing the team in 2021."

Henry, a STEM enthusiast and Army veteran from our Hardware Engineering team, was a key part of integrating the Aurora Driver into two new and very different vehicle platforms.

"As a hardware integration engineer, I’m on the team responsible for connecting the hardware and software that make up the Aurora Driver, and ensuring that they operate reliably. 2020 has been challenging with limited hands-on time with our technology throughout the year. But, we adapted and spent our work hours at home focusing on project planning, which allowed us to maximize the limited time we had in our shop. Ultimately we were still able to continue integrating the Aurora Driver into our fleet of Pacificas and trucks, and get them on the road. We set outrageous goals this year, and we achieved them thanks to the incredible depth of experience on the hardware team. In 2021, I look forward to working with our new team members from ATG."

Randy, Aurora’s VP of Lidar and the founder of Blackmore, led the team that developed Aurora’s industry-leading FirstLight Lidar and helped launch our next-generation trucks in 12 weeks time.

"I work with teams across the company to set the vision for our lidar products. Our team has grown exponentially over the course of the year and while it’s been a challenge for us to work remotely, we’ve reached some huge milestones. In our first full year of working together, we launched FirstLight Lidar and integrated it onto our fleet of Pacificas and our next-generation trucks. But we didn’t stop with FirstLight. Over the course of the year, we also laid out plans for our next-generation products. With 2021 fast approaching, I’m personally hoping to play in some pickleball tournaments if the conditions are right."

Magnus is an Academy Award-winning Software Engineer from our Perception Simulation team. He brings his expertise in computer graphics to create realistic simulated environments for the Aurora Driver to drive in.

"A big challenge of 2020 has been to maintain some normalcy for my family. From living room picnics to socially distanced bike rides, my wife and I have tried our best to do our part while still letting our kids be kids. However, in a year like this one, being a part of Aurora meant that creating self-driving vehicles has been the most normal part of any given day. The accomplishment isn't mine alone, but I'm proud that as our team has doubled in size during the pandemic, we've managed to maintain a positive and tight collaborative spirit, and are an even stronger group than when we started the year. That could only happen at a company where the team is focusing not only on executing, but equally on ensuring that everyone is helping one another."

We’re looking forward to introducing more of the Aurora team and sharing our progress in 2021.

If you felt inspired by what you just read, we’re hiring in all disciplines to help us solve one of the biggest challenges of our generation. Check out our careers page to see open positions and learn more about what it’s like to work at Aurora.

Aurora Team
Aurora delivers the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly, and broadly

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Our values are more than lip service. They define who we are, set the tone for how we work as a team, and guide us through important decisions. At Aurora, we operate with integrity, set outrageous goals, and continue to build a culture where we win together—all without any jerks.