Hyundai, VW Reach Deals With Driverless Car Startup

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General Motors said in November that its self-driving vehicles will carry passengers and deliver goods in big cities by 2019.

VW hasn't identified these initial launch cities, but Jungwirth said some will be in the U.S. Waymo also plans to begin testing its vehicles in MI this winter. That'll be especially interesting to watch since conditions will be both snowy and hilly, both of which now pose some challenges for self-driving vehicles.

Urmson, who led autonomous vehicle development efforts at Alphabet Inc.'s Google for more than seven years, started Aurora last year with former Tesla executive Sterling Anderson, and ex-Uber autonomous vehicle leader Drew Bagnell.

It is only about a year old but it's already announcing two giant auto-makers as customers: Volkswagen and Hyundai. While VW and Hyundai have chosen to partner with the new company, which is jointly based in San Francisco and Pittsburgh, other automakers have made a decision to bring their research efforts in-house, often at substantial cost.

Aurora provides the "full-stack solution" for self-driving vehicles.

Like other firms in the autonomous driving field, Aurora - labeled "America's hottest self-driving startup" by Silicon Valley bible Wired magazine - has sought out an established carmaker to make its high-tech visions a reality. "This is a huge opportunity for us" to focus on the most automated of cars.

Level 4 autonomy is capable of full hands-free driving without any human input, and in some circumstances even observation, and is a significant step-up from any current autonomous systems.

Automakers are investing billions of dollars to bring autonomous and fully driverless vehicles to the road. "This will be only a net positive for the world, and a net positive for Aurora and our partners".

"This tech is not easy, and not everyone will get across the finish line", Urmson says.

Urmson headed the Google Self-Driving Car Project (now Waymo) until 2015.

While in the past small businesses would hire in anticipation of getting new business, now owners say they'll wait for revenue to increase significantly before they'll make staff additions.

Automotive manufacturers increasingly are joining forces with tech start-ups in order to ensure they don't get left behind in the coming transportation shift to vehicles that are capable of driving themselves.

Other automakers looking to speed up the development of autonomous technology have been making similar partnerships and acquisitions in recent years. Aurora has been working to integrate its self-driving system into VW's vehicle platforms. - Bloomberg picTesla sued Anderson, now Aurora's chief product officer, in January 2017 for breach of contract by joining Aurora, and subsequently dropped the lawsuit in April.

In 2018, VW plans to outfit scores of cars with the self-driving system as a test fleet, the paper added.