Amazon invests in self-driving auto startup Aurora

08 February, 2019, 18:15 | Author: Regina Silva
  • Aurora Innovation Lincoln test cars

Much of the funding support Aurora Innovation has received is based on its executive leadership, all of whom have experience/expertise at other self-driving companies.

Aurora also noted its latest round of funding will help them accelerate the development of their autonomous driving technology and strengthen their team as well as their ecosystem.

SAN FRANCISCO: A self-driving auto technology startup founded by former Google, Tesla and Uber executives said Thursday it secured $530 million in new funding that included a "significant" investment from Amazon.

Aurora's three co-founders are legendary within the tight community of roboticists and engineers who are leading the charge to make self-driving cars a reality. Drew Bagnell, the chief technology officer, was a founding member of Uber's Advanced Technologies Group.

The large investment by a group led by Sequoia, with T. Rowe Price and Amazon involved, will count as a vote of confidence in a competition between driverless efforts that's largely measured in funding and alliances.

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The funding round was led by venture capital firm Sequoia, whose partner Carl Eschenbach will join Aurora's board. Amazon could use this for self-driving cargo and courier vehicles, reducing its need for human drivers (like it or not) and speeding up delivery times by keeping products moving around the clock. Investments previous year from the SoftBank Vision Fund and Honda Motor Co. pushed Cruise's valuation to $14.6 billion.

Aurora doesn't build self-driving cars. Overall, it intends to be the "nerve center" of autonomous vehicles, and that vision has been funneled into what the company calls the Aurora Driver platform.

Amazon did not reveal how much it had invested but said it could use driverless auto systems in package delivery or in its warehouses. Waymo has been in talks to create a delivery and logistics effort, while Ford has been testing driverless delivery of pizza with Domino's and groceries with Postmates.

In California alone, over 60 companies have DMV permits to test autonomous vehicles on the roads (most commonly with safety drivers in attendance), although the burgeoning industry is still dominated by cash-rich giants like Alphabet Inc. and GM.

"We are always looking to invest in innovative, customer-obsessed companies, and Aurora is just that".

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