Those efforts gathered momentum this year, as company engineers created an internal set of simulation tools that can vet self-driving mettle. As on-road testing halved, simulated testing at the company increased by a factor of 100.
There are countless third-party providers of similar simulation software and services. But Drew Bagnell, another co-founder, says most of those run on game engines. While they are often visually appealing, they don't necessarily deliver more accurate results.
Having the bespoke simulation tool, called the Offline Executor, allows Aurora to make seamless comparisons between scenarios collected in the real world and those run through simulation.
By reducing its on-road mileage, eschewing flashy simulators and shying away from highly controlled test rides, Aurora has bucked industry trends. It has happily charted its own course in 2019 toward realizing commercial deployment of self-driving technology.
"We don't do dog and pony shows," said Anderson, who previously was chief engineer of Tesla's Model X program and led development of the automaker's Autopilot driver-assistance system. He co-founded Aurora in 2017 along with Bagnell, previously the architect of Uber Advanced Technologies Group's autonomous systems, and Chris Urmson, who previously led Google's self-driving car project.
In June, Volkswagen Group announced the end of a self-driving partnership with Aurora. In September, Hyundai Motor Group, another key automotive partner for Aurora, established a self-driving joint venture with Aptiv. These developments would have shaken many executives, but Aurora's leaders appear unconcerned.
Hyundai remains a partner and investor. More broadly, Anderson said Aurora intends to deploy its automated-driving system with a wide variety of partners. Not tying itself too closely to one helps the company ensure it can build a system that meets the needs of the widest possible market.
"We want something that's industry agnostic, vehicle agnostic and use-case agnostic," Anderson said.