Today, Aurora, the self-driving company, released its initial version of the Aurora Safety Case Framework — the first self-driving Safety Case Framework that applies to both autonomous trucks and passenger vehicles. The safety case-based approach is a defined way to evaluate when its vehicles are safe enough to operate on public roads and to assess that they are not creating an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety.
“A Safety Case Framework is the most effective and efficient path to safely pulling the safety driver and it’s an imperative component for any company looking to operate without a safety driver and safely deliver commercial-ready self-driving vehicles at scale,” said CEO and co-founder Chris Urmson. “It’s something other self-driving companies should strongly consider using as they move towards commercialization.”
Aurora’s Safety Case Framework captures different elements that are critical for evaluating the safe development, testing, and operation of a self-driving vehicle on public roads. While a safety case-based approach is frequently used in a variety of other safety-centric industries — including aviation, nuclear, medical, automotive, and oil and gas exploration and extraction — it is not yet the norm in the self-driving industry.
“Ultimately, a strong safety case-based approach should signal — to employees, partners, regulators, and the general public — that the product being put on the road is acceptably safe. We’re publishing our Safety Case Framework as part of our commitment to transparency and collaboration, and because we believe that all AV companies need to work together to make our roads safer,” said Aurora Vice President of Safety Nat Beuse.
Within Aurora, its Safety Case Framework is how the company continuously reviews evidence and evaluates the Aurora Driver’s performance and development against internal standards to ensure it’s confident putting self-driving vehicles on the road both with and without a vehicle operator. Externally, it enables the company to effectively share its approach and progress with partners, customers, regulators, and the general public.
Aurora’s framework is an industry first:
Aurora is addressing trucking and passenger mobility, all in one: From day one, the company developed the Aurora Driver to learn from experience across multiple use cases – large trucks moving goods on highways, passenger vehicles moving people on highways, or those vehicles moving goods and people on suburban and urban roads. Consistent with this common architecture of Aurora Driver’s hardware and software, Aurora is the first company to publish the method for a company to determine that its self-driving system — whether integrated into an autonomous truck or a passenger car — is safe enough for public roads. While the company tailors the framework for the specific vehicle platform and operating domain, this approach enables the team to work from one set of transparent guidelines, ensuring Aurora can develop quickly and operate safely.
Aurora is evaluating the entire development lifecycle, not just deployment: Instead of just focusing on safety for a final commercially deployed product, Aurora’s Safety Case Framework is adaptable, with claims that support different aspects throughout the lifecycle of self-driving vehicle development, from testing to deployment. This means that Aurora will be able to adapt the safety case claims it has published today to different vehicle platforms, vehicles with an operator behind the wheel, and vehicles on testing tracks as well as public roads.
Aurora is focused on the entire enterprise, not just the vehicle: Rather than being limited to just the vehicle, Aurora’s Safety Case Framework lays out the safety story for Aurora as a self-driving enterprise: the vehicle, people, processes, culture, and supporting programs and systems of the organization.
Aurora also shared an in-depth look at the principles and applications of its framework and an interview with the company’s Vice President of Safety Nat Beuse. Aurora’s framework assesses the entire development lifecycle of its vehicles, allowing the company to accelerate its path to deployment and determine when self-driving vehicles are acceptably safe for public roads. Notably, it is the only AV company currently operating in the industry to publicly share its Safety Case Framework.
Committed to transparency and collaboration, Aurora continues to share its work and progress, which allows the industry to work together to push forward the standards of safety and ensures everyone – from regulators and partners to the general public – understands its safety approach. For example, the company also recently offered its perspective on standing up a Safety Management System (SMS).
Founded in 2017 by experts in the self-driving industry, Aurora is on a mission to deliver the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly, and broadly. To move both people and goods, the company is building the Aurora Driver, a platform that brings together software, hardware and data services to autonomously operate passenger vehicles, light commercial vehicles, and heavy-duty trucks. Aurora is backed by Sequoia Capital, Baillie Gifford, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, among others, and is partnered with industry leaders including Toyota, Uber, Volvo, and PACCAR. Aurora tests its vehicles in the Bay Area, Pittsburgh, and Dallas. The company has offices in those areas as well as in Bozeman, MT; Seattle, WA; Louisville, CO; and Wixom, MI. To learn more, visit www.aurora.tech.