Auro Boosts Production, Expanding Autonomous Shuttles to Public Roads

Many — if not all — major OEMs have already started testing self-driving cars. While there are no driverless cars on public roads today, there are a few roaming in more closed environments.

Auro Robotics — a mobility-as-a-service provider — has had its electric, self-driving shuttle making one-mile loops on Santa Clara University’s campus since November. Auro makes existing vehicles into autonomous wonders. 

Now the startup is in the process of sealing another partnership with a university, and one more with a corporate campus. Auro has three autonomous shuttles in its fleet, with a goal to have 20 by December, Chief Operating Officer Ben Stinnett told Mobility Buzz.

“We are also talking to one of the largest event producers about having shuttles at music festivals and other events,” Stinnett said. “As opposed to many of our competitors, our cars are already there, having transferred more than 700 passengers since we began daily operations, on a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. set schedule.”

Auro develops both the software and hardware — that fit in a small box — that can turn any new car, despite the brand and make, autonomous. The company keeps the ownership of the cars, and charges users — the universities or corporate campuses — a monthly subscription fee. So far, Auro’s fleet is comprised of converted GEM electric UVs, which are manufactured by Polaris Industries Inc.

“We are in talks with different OEMs on possible partnerships, so that we can increase our fleet with different kinds of vehicles,” Stinnett said.

Eventually, Auro is looking to provide the first- and last-mile transportation, which will mean expanding onto public roads.

“Being able to deploy them [shuttles] in closed environments is what makes it possible for us to make money, and not deal with the DMV,” he said. “But we are in talks with key regulators in the Bay Area, and are expecting to service a public transit station near campuses in the next 24 to 36 months.”

The startup — launched in 2015 — has raised $2 million in two rounds of funding so far.

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