Toyota, Aurora Begin Testing Fleet of Self-Driving Vans in Texas

by Megan Molseed
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The Toyota Motor Company is teaming up with Aurora, an automated driving systems company in creating a fleet of self-driving vans. Preliminary tests for these vehicles are occurring throughout the state of Texas. These vehicles, which are Toyota model Sienna minivans, are fitted with an Aurora self-driving system. They are already testing the fleet throughout the Texas highways and neighborhoods with no passengers, but two safety operators onboard each one.

The Quick Facts

  • Japanese automaker Toyota has teamed up with Aurora to create a fleet of self-driving vehicles.
  • The companies are currently testing the autonomous vehicles, with full safety precautions in mind.
  • The driverless minivans are being tested on suburban Texas streets as well as along Texas highways.
  • The goal is to create a “ride-hailing” fleet of vehicles carrying passengers to a variety of locations.

Toyota And Aurora Team Up to Create A Fleet of Self-Driving Sienna Models

The two major companies have put together two of their greatest products; the popular Toyota Sienna minivan and the Aurora self-driving technology to create an autonomous driving fleet of vehicles. These vehicles are currently operating test runs along the highways and suburban roads of the Texas Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The vehicles are just the start of an entire “ride-hailing” fleet, the companies say. Part of these tests includes runs to the airport, specifically. Which, of course, is a very likely route a self-driving “ride-hailing” vehicle would often take.

“The route showcases Aurora’s ability to safely operate at highway speeds,” an Aurora spokesperson says in a statement.

“A key technical differentiator that allows it to prioritize popular and lucrative rides,” the U.S.-based autonomous driving company’s statement continues.

The Partnership Brings Both Companies A Little Further Into the Future Of Autonomous Driving Options

The Aurora system called the Aurora Driver is added to the best-selling Toyota Sienna minivan. This partnership aims to create the start of this self-driving fleet of minivans. As of now, the companies are not involving any members of the public in the testing practices. Furthermore, the companies have included two safety drivers in the vehicles during the test drives.

The Aurora Driver system has exceeded expectations already. Likewise, the system has a rating level of four on the SAE scale measuring the capability of self-driving systems. The system has the capability of driving on its own for extended time periods – within specific conditions. The Toyota and Aurora companies plan to ultimately create them to serve as trucking fleets or taxi options.

Furthermore, Toyota has some models hitting the showroom floor that include self-driving technologies. Among these are the 2022 Toyota Mirai and the 2022 Lexus LS. However, these vehicles include technologies far less advanced than the Aurora Driving systems.

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