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Self-driving car company Aurora building facility in Bozeman

Courtesy Aurora
A rendering of the new facility Aurora will build on MSU's Innovation Campus.

Bozeman is becoming a hub for photonics, which is the study of light. A company that uses lasers to detect objects in the distance for self-driving vehicles announced this week it will build a research and manufacturing facility near Montana State University.

Aurora co-founder Sterling Anderson made the announcement at the Montana On the Rise economic summit Thursday in Bozeman. He said recent supply chain issues highlight the need for driverless truck technology.

“When you replace these trucks that are human driven with a truck that is self driven," he said, "you turn an asset that drives for 11 hours and then stops and parks to one that instead of taking 2-3 days to go from LA to Dallas takes 24 hours,” he said.

An Aurora spokesperson told YPR the company will research and manufacture its self-driving technology for commercial and passenger vehicles out of the planned 78,000 square foot facility. Aurora has offices in Bozeman and six other cities.

The company plans to build the facility at Montana State University’s Innovation Campus, a 42-acre development being constructed near the university that will house technology and health care businesses.

Olivia Weitz covers Bozeman and surrounding communities in Southwest Montana for Yellowstone Public Radio. She has reported for Northwest News Network and Boise State Public Radio and previously worked at a daily print newspaper. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and the Transom Story Workshop.