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Hyundai, VW ink deals with U.S. autonomous vehicle firm

The Associated Press DETROIT (AP) — Hyundai and Volkswagen each say they’re partnering with a U.S. autonomous vehicle tech firm led by former executives from Google, Tesla and Uber.

The companies on Thursday announced partnerships with Aurora Innovation, started last year by ex-Google autonomous car chief Chris Urmson and others.

VW says its collaboration will help bring self-driving cars quickly to roads worldwide, while autonomous Hyundais are expected to be in the market by 2021.

The partnerships are the latest in a string of tie-ups between traditional auto companies and tech firms as they race to be first with self-driving vehicles.

Aurora is based in Pittsburgh and Palo Alto, California. It was started last year by Urmson, former Tesla executive Sterling Anderson, and ex-Uber autonomous vehicle leader Drew Bagnell.

Terms of each partnership were not released, but Urmson, who is Aurora’s CEO, said the startup will make a profit by helping Hyundai and VW develop safe autonomous vehicles. In an interview with The Associated Press, Urmson said he isn’t sure exactly where money will be made in autonomous vehicles. It could be from developing sophisticated sensing and guidance systems, manufacturing vehicles or providing transportation as a service.

“The way the economics play out over time is still far from foregone,” he said. “We still don’t know which of these pieces will be dominant or if they will find a happy equilibrium.”

Urmson left Alphabet Inc.’s Google in 2016 after more than seven years of work on its autonomous vehicles. At Tesla Inc., Anderson led development of the company’s semi-autonomous Autopilot system after its initial release, and he led development of the Model X SUV, according to Aurora’s website. Bagnell was a founder of Uber Technologies Inc.’s Advanced Technology Center working on autonomous cars in Pittsburgh.Speech

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