(Bloomberg) -- Nearly a decade after it began working on self-driving vehicles, Uber Technologies Inc. plans to haul freight fully autonomously for the first time later this year through an expansion of an earlier deal with Aurora Innovation Inc.

The former rivals are aiming to ditch the human safety drivers they’ve been using since 2021 and offer a driverless trucking service on the interstate highway between Dallas and Houston by year-end, according to a statement Tuesday. As many as 20 of Aurora’s rigs will be on the road in Texas, which allowed self-driving trucks in 2017.

The deal represents a first for both companies. Uber is the first firm that Aurora’s signed for its self-driving service. Aurora is the first company that Uber has announced fully-autonomous freight with as it builds out its driverless network. The rideshare company is also working with autonomous trucking firms Waabi and Daimler Truck Holding AG’s Torc Robotics, though they both still use safety drivers.

Uber doesn’t plan to lower freight prices on the route despite going driverless, Uber Freight Head of Autonomous Trucking Olivia Hu said in an interview. It picked Aurora partly due to its safety record, she said. No injuries were reported in the seven incidents Aurora recorded since 2021, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The deal underscores Uber’s shift from developing its own self-driving car to the more cost-effective option of opening its platform to other companies.

Uber sold its autonomous-vehicle unit to Aurora in 2020 after spending more than $1 billion on it. A year-end driverless freight launch would come about a year after Uber introduced a driverless taxi service with Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo in Phoenix.

Aurora, which was founded by former Uber, Tesla and Google self-driving program executives, has said that autonomous trucks could reduce high driver turnover rates, offer 24/7 deliveries, cut fuel use and possibly be safer — though they will likely have to prove they are 100% safe to win over skeptics.

If its deal with Uber is successful, Aurora plans to expand it along the sun belt, Aurora VP of Business Development Zac Andreoni said in an interview. Aurora’s goal is to expose more trucking companies to its software and ultimately convince them to buy it and pay a subscription fee.

“If you’re a carrier who’s not on the list of largest carriers, this is really interesting to you because now you get this supercharged asset and with Uber Freight you’ll have demand to make sure that you can actually utilize the trucks,” Andreoni said.

The valuation of Uber’s 21% stake in Aurora fell to $900 million from $1.7 billion in the three years since the deal, contributing to a surprise net loss in the first quarter. Uber’s freight division has been a drag on overall revenue, though declines have narrowed in recent quarters.

Uber’s tumultuous history with autonomous vehicles included a 2018 crash that killed a 49-year-old woman. The company halted tests after the accident, which was likely the first pedestrian fatality involving the technology.

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