In the case of our next-generation truck, we leveraged our vehicle-agnostic hardware and the detailed vehicle requirements we first created in 2017. As we developed the Aurora Driver during the subsequent four years and eight different vehicle platforms, we refined these requirements in collaboration with several manufacturing partners. In 2018, for instance, we built our first Class 8 truck in close partnership with its manufacturer. This design and these requirements reflect the tremendous depth of knowledge we’ve gained through the years. As a result, our truck manufacturing partners trust our expertise, and lend their own, leading to very efficient and effective integration. We expect to use this to support multiple truck manufacturers in the creation of driverless-capable trucks.
Virtual Testing Suite to accelerate development
As we’ve said since our early days, a strong virtual testing program is a marker of a mature self-driving effort, which is why we’ve invested so heavily in our Virtual Testing Suite. As the pandemic delayed manufacturing timelines and made it difficult to work physically on the newly-designed truck platform, these tools became even more important. The traditional approach to bringing up a new platform typically requires a physical vehicle to integrate hardware, calibrate sensors, and collect training data for software. Despite lacking that physical access, we leveraged our suite of truck-related tools originally developed during our first truck program in 2018 to quickly design and develop the truck virtually, shaving several months off the build.
Our world-class perception simulation team used existing tools to create realistic sensor simulations, like the one below, to adapt our perception models to this new truck before we’d ever touched it physically. These simulations, along with the thousands of new truck-specific tests generated each week, allow us to quickly test both common and rare situations that the Aurora Driver may encounter on highways and in urban environments.