AV company Aurora hires president ahead of commercial launch

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Aurora Innovation said Monday it has hired Ossa Fisher as president as the autonomous vehicle company prepares to commercially launch its self-driving trucks business next year.

The company said Fisher, who was most recently president and chief operating officer of education tech company Istation, will be based in Dallas. Aurora is headquartered in Pittsburgh and has offices in San Francisco and Mountain View, but its self-driving truck testing and operations is in the Dallas area.

Aurora Innovation was founded in 2017 by Sterling Anderson, Drew Bagnell and Chris Urmson — three veterans of the nascent autonomous vehicle technology world who previously worked at Tesla, Uber and the Google self-driving project (now Waymo), respectively. Urmson is CEO, Anderson is chief product officer and Bagnell is chief scientist.

Fisher’s experience building up and running a commercial business will balance out the more technical backgrounds of Aurora’s three founders, according to a company spokesperson.

The hiring comes about a year ahead of the company’s planned commercial launch by the end of 2024.

Aurora does have a number of pilot programs with customers like FedEx, Schneider and Uber Freight, all of which are “paying.”  However, Aurora doesn’t recognize this as commercial revenue; instead, those pilot program payments are used to offset the company’s R&D expenses. It does report “collaboration revenue,” each quarter as part of its partnership with Toyota.

Aurora Innovation said in November it had enough money to continue to develop its autonomous vehicle technology until its commercial launch.The company closed the third quarter with about $1.2 billion in cash and short-term investments.

The company is expected to report its fourth-quarter earnings February 15.

Clarification: The collaboration revenue is from Toyota and not the pilot programs. 

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