Rendering Aurora HQ

Aurora, the rock star self-driving car company that got its start in Pittsburgh, is making the city its official home.

Since its founding in 2017, Aurora has had a strong presence in Pittsburgh. Its founders include Chief Technology Officer Drew Bagnell, a robotics professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

To mark the decision to make Pittsburgh its corporate headquarters, Aurora is donating $65,000 to fund STEM-related requests from Allegheny County teachers via DonorsChoose.

“With its incredible universities and focus on innovation, Pittsburgh has been home to Aurora since we were founded, and we’re committed to continued growth right here in this community,” says Gerardo Interiano, Aurora’s vice president of government relations. “With a firm belief in the future of this city and its workforce, we’re excited to have our corporate headquarters here and be making a donation that will help fund the city’s next generation of technologists and roboticists.”  

In July, Aurora announced it will go public through a merger with Reinvent Technology Partners Y, a special-purpose acquisition company, in a deal that puts the combined company value at $13 billion. Aurora acquired Uber ATG in a deal finalized earlier this year.

With a presence in the San Francisco Bay Area and Dallas-Fort Worth in Texas, Aurora’s decision to name Pittsburgh as its corporate headquarters underscores the city’s position as the home of automated vehicles. 

“Aurora has been an outstanding partner in this city and a critical part of our growing autonomous vehicle economy,” says Mayor Bill Peduto. “Together, we will continue to make Pittsburgh a leader in 21st-century mobility.”  

The donation will fund various STEM-related projects, including helping third graders get supplies to build volcanoes, purchasing a color printer for a fifth-grade classroom, and funding a digital microscope, science experiment books and an incubator for hatching chicken eggs.

 “Aurora joins a growing group of Pittsburgh companies that are working to solve some of the world’s most complex challenges right here in southwestern Pennsylvania,” says Audrey Russo, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Technology Council. “Even as they rapidly grow their team in Pittsburgh, Aurora is investing in the future of our region by working hand-in-hand with local schools and educators.”

With most of its 1,600 employees located in Pittsburgh, Aurora says it intends to continue to expand its presence. The team includes software and hardware engineers, recruiting and information technology, as well as legal and operations employees.

Last year, the company added new office space on Smallman Street in the Strip District, along with space at 50 33rd Street, the Crucible Building, 85 36th Street, and its test track at Hazelwood Green

Many of Aurora’s “firsts” have happened in Pittsburgh — the first autonomous drive on a test track and the first autonomous navigation of tunnels and snow-covered roads. Aurora also was the first company to receive authorization from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to test its autonomous cars in the state. 

“I’ve seen firsthand how Aurora values the Pittsburgh region’s civic leadership culture and recognizes the responsibility that comes with it,” says Stefani Pashman, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. “I am proud Aurora will definitively call Pittsburgh home. I am even more proud that Aurora joins our region’s efforts to collaboratively create a better future for all.”

 Aurora’s additional locations include Bozeman, Montana; Seattle; Louisville, Colorado; and Wixom, Michigan. 

Sandra Tolliver is a freelance writer, editor and public relations professional in Upper St. Clair.