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Aurora forms expert advisory board focused on driverless safety

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Aurora Innovation Inc. formed a committee of experts to advise on safety matters and detailed its own safety efforts with an internal self-assessment, as the Silicon Valley-based autonomous-vehicle technology startup tries to boost consumer and regulatory confidence in driverless vehicles.

The Safety Advisory Board will include outside professionals from fields such as aviation safety, insurance, medicine and automotive safety to provide guidance and recommendations, the company announced Thursday. The members include Shailen Bhatt, CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America; Dave Carbaugh, the former chief pilot for flight-operations safety at Boeing Co.; and Jeff Runge, a former administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The board dovetails with Aurora CEO Chris Urmson’s often-repeated goal of delivering the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly and broadly. As the company grows in size and rolls out autonomous trucks in Texas, it’s taking steps to bring more people into the fold and detail its safety culture.

“We can save lives while also increasing safety and efficiency on our roads,” Urmson wrote in the introduction to the 55-page Voluntary Safety Self-Assessment report. “But all of these opportunities depend on one concept: trust. Our technology needs to be trustworthy. Our company needs to be trustworthy.”

The report details Aurora’s use of lidar, the company’s virtual testing suite and how vehicle operators are trained.

One example: The phrase “grounding the fleet” refers to the act of ceasing vehicle test operations. All Aurora employees are empowered to ground the fleet for safety reasons at any time — something that new employees are taught during their first week.