Today, I’m proud to announce that Ridecell has acquired Auro Robotics, a company that turns shuttles and neighborhood electric vehicles into self-driving vehicles. I’m also proud to announce the availability of the Ridecell autonomous operations platform, which manages fleets of autonomous vehicles and enables on-demand ridehailing. Both announcements represent the next steps towards the Ridecell vision: to provide the world’s leading new mobility platform for driven and driverless vehicles.
It’s thrilling to see the race to autonomous going at full force, as top OEMs and other mobility innovators work to deliver driverless vehicles ready for public use. But self-driving vehicle technology is only half of the autonomous revolution. The other half is scaling up massive fleets of on-demand and shared mobility vehicles. Most autonomous cars in the future will be shared and used to power on-demand rides. When autonomous mobility is mainstream, we’ll see private vehicle ownership decline—because ridehailing will be more affordable than driving your own car. But once vehicles know how to drive, the autonomous fleets will need to be taught to take care of themselves. They’ll need to learn to handle their own maintenance, call for a tow if they break down, and unlock themselves for passengers and maintenance staff.
That’s where Ridecell comes in. After the successful completion of private pilots with leading self-driving fleets—and based on our experience powering millions of rides and drives—we’re making the Ridecell autonomous operations platform available to any autonomous vehicle or service provider who is scaling in their test fleets and working towards an on-demand pilot or planned service offering.
What do we mean by operations? In an autonomous, on-demand world, a critical success factor will be fleet management: keeping vehicles on the road, running smoothly and ready for the next passenger. For example, when and where does the vehicle go to get cleaned, refueled, and serviced? What happens to the car and its passengers if there’s a breakdown? How do service personnel get access to the vehicle?
The Ridecell autonomous operations platform gives autonomous vehicle fleets the intelligence to manage these operational tasks, in both routine and emergency situations:
- It can direct and optimize routes of autonomous vehicles to operations depots for maintenance.
- It can dispatch and optimally route support vehicles to handle necessary chores, such as cleaning, or to provide assistance in emergency cases—wherever the autonomous vehicle happens to be.
- It can enable authorized service personnel to access the entire vehicle and maintain logs of access and tasks performed.
- It can help automate reporting for autonomous compliance and risk data, while meeting privacy requirements.
As self-driving vehicles get close to ready for the public market, Ridecell is here to solve the operational challenges of delivering on-demand autonomous mobility services.
In order to test and tune our autonomous operations platform, Ridecell needs unfettered access to driverless vehicles operating in the real world. In March 2017, we established a partnership with Auro, a Santa Clara–based startup that develops self-driving technology for shuttles in low-speed environments. Along the way, we determined that we share the same vision of the autonomous future and that our cultures are a good fit. It was easy to see that joining forces would help both companies learn and move faster.
So today, I am happy to welcome Auro to the Ridecell family!
Auro has developed the leading self-driving platform for low-speed deployments. In fact, Auro-enabled shuttles were among the first driverless shuttles put into daily operation on a private campus (Santa Clara University) and have already provided safe transportation to thousands of riders. Working with Auro, their existing customers, and Auro-enabled driverless shuttles, Ridecell will be able to perform rigorous testing of our platform in real-world, closed environments.
Why closed environments? Why shuttles? Private-road environments with low-traffic, low-speed roads provide the perfect setting for deploying driverless vehicles today. And shuttles are the perfect vehicles to test autonomous operations and consumer use cases – with a view toward developing best practices for autonomous on public roads.
Collaboration Is Everything
Together, Ridecell and Auro offer the industry’s only fully operational service that can be deployed today—without requiring special lanes or other infrastructure changes. To accelerate the autonomous revolution, we believe the industry needs to work together. That’s why we’re pleased that both Auro technologies and the Ridecell operations platform are open for collaboration with autonomous innovators to help bring their self-driving services to market.
Stay tuned for more about Auro and the Ridecell autonomous operations platform.
Author: Aarjav Trivedi, CEO, Ridecell