Aurora Innovation, a startup company masterminded by leaders of autonomous vehicles, has struck up deals with Volkswagen and Hyundai in a race to bring self-driving cars to the public.
The partnerships were revealed on Thursday, with both automakers announcing their intentions to build self-driving technology into their vehicles by 2021, The Verge noted.
Aurora is the brainchild of former Google self-driving car expert Chris Urmson, who founded the company last year and, while the complement of staff features some of the top minds of the field, the backing of two established companies could help elevate its status.
Volkswagen and Hyundai have set their eyes on the future, with mass production in mind.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Volkswagen intends to develop seven test vehicles in 2018, with the goal of releasing hundreds more next year followed by over 1,000 by 2020.
By 2021 the automaker plans to have fleets of autonomous vehicles, which customers can hail, in several cities.
Hyundai plans to make the autonomous vehicles commercially available by 2021.
Volkswagen’s chief digital officer Johann Jungwirth said per Fortune that the company intended to make the self-driving cars accessible to everyone in the world — something Aurora could help it achieve.
“For me, this is a very big deal; it’s a potential partnership of the century,” said Jungwirth.
Urmson said that the partnerships would propel Aurora’s mission of delivering self-driving technology “safely, quickly, and broadly,” The Wired noted.
“To do that, we needed to find automotive partners that had global scale,” said Urmson.
The Aurora CEO said that he hoped the publicity gained from the partnerships would bring more “progressive-thinking automakers” round to the concept of autonomous vehicles, The Verge said.