Aurora Driver integrated in Chrysler Pacificas. Photo courtesy of Aurora.

Aurora, a startup founded in Pittsburgh in 2017, has quickly become a major player in the race to develop self-driving cars. Now, the company is acquiring Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group (ATG), which is based in Pittsburgh. This will push Aurora’s value to $10 billion.

“By adding the people and technology of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group to the incredible group we’ve already assembled at Aurora, we’re shifting the landscape of the automated vehicle space,” says Chris Urmson, co-founder and CEO of Aurora.

“With the addition of ATG, Aurora will have an incredibly strong team and technology, a clear path to several markets and the resources to deliver. Simply put, Aurora will be the company best positioned to deliver the self-driving products necessary to make transportation and logistics safer, more accessible and less expensive.”

This will speed the development of the Aurora Driver platform, which is working to deliver heavy driverless trucks first, then push forward efforts on lighter vehicles like self-driving cars.

Self-driving truck. Photo courtesy of Aurora.

Aurora is also proclaiming a strategic partnership with Uber, combining their technology with the world’s biggest ride-hailing platform. Uber is investing $400 million in Aurora, and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is joining Aurora’s board.

“Few technologies hold as much promise to improve people’s lives with safe, accessible and environmentally friendly transportation as self-driving vehicles,” says Khosrowshahi. “For the last five years, our phenomenal team at ATG has been at the forefront of this effort — and in joining forces with Aurora, they are now in pole position to deliver on that promise even faster.”

Aurora currently employs 600 people and is co-headquartered in Pittsburgh and Palo Alto. Uber ATG employs 1,200, most of whom are in the Strip District. Aurora is planning to move into a new office in the Strip District.

The new home of Aurora, the self-driving car company that is on a growth tear. Photo by Tracy Certo.

“While we have been advancing steadily toward our first logistics product, ATG has focused on ridesharing,” says Urmson, in a blog post. “They’ve been thinking through challenges like rider assistance, dispatching self-driving vehicles alongside human drivers and nuanced robotics problems such as rider pickup and dropoff. Informed by over 50,000 trips on the Uber platform, they’ve also invested heavily in understanding rider experience to design a product that is not only functional, but also comfortable for passengers.”

Their technologies overlap in some places and are complementary in others.

“We also have a lot we can learn from each other,” says Urmson. “ATG has incorporated some elements into their hardware kit that were further out on our product roadmap, like liquid cooling for their computer.”

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.