Nearly three years ago, Aurora was founded with one mission: to deliver the benefits of self-driving safely, quickly, and broadly. From the earliest days of the company, we knew that achieving this mission would require a deeply experienced team and a meticulously-designed Aurora Driver consisting of the hardware, software, and data services required to navigate vehicles safely through the world.
Given hardware’s foundational role in powering the Aurora Driver, we’ve made several key investments in the last three years to build a world-class hardware engineering team and technology. This post briefly highlights who that team is, how we approach self-driving hardware development, what we’re building, and why this matters.
Who we are
Aurora’s hardware engineering team brings together a unique group of technologists and product designers with deep experience in building self-driving and other high-performance products at scale. Members of our hardware engineering team have shipped some of the most advanced automotive systems on the road today, architected high-performance consumer electronics, developed cutting-edge defense robotics, designed advanced lidar systems, and launched a number of successful networking and telecom infrastructure products at scale.
How we approach self-driving hardware development
As you may have heard, self-driving is a challenging problem. Solving it safely, quickly, and at scale requires an elegant combination of carefully-crafted sensors, computers, and networking hardware custom-fit to its corresponding software.
Understanding the hardware requirements for self-driving is a critical first step to designing the right system. While “first principles” physics such as stopping distances, road curvatures, and visibility requirements are a necessary consideration, they alone are insufficient for this design task. It takes experience to know what combination of sensors will give the perception system the best chance of detecting, classifying, localizing, and tracking all objects of interest in the world. For example, does a single pixel on a box 300 meters away provide enough information to take action? If not, how many points of data will our perception system ultimately require?
Our hardware design starts with a “first principles” evaluation of the most extreme cases we expect the system to handle and ends with simulation, experiments, and evaluation by a team of perception experts who are uniquely suited to predict future software capabilities.