Amazon invests in self-driving vehicle startup Aurora

by Ben Pena February 12, 2019, 0:59
Amazon invests in self-driving vehicle startup Aurora

Self-driving startup Aurora Innovation has raised US$530 million from a group of investors including Silicon Valley venture capital firm Sequoia Capital and e-commerce titan Amazon. This second round of funding for Aurora values the company at more than US$2.5 billion. Co-founder and Chief Product Officer Sterling Anderson led the design and launch of the Tesla Model X and Drew Bagnell, Aurora's Chief Technology Officer and co-founder, was one of the founders of Uber's Advanced Technology Centre.

Aurora is led by Chief Executive Officer Chris Urmson, a former assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University who led development on Alphabet Inc.'s self-driving auto project. The company presently employs around 250 workers split between its Bay Area and Pittsburgh campuses.

The founders' impressive credentials have helped Aurora not just with fundraising but also on the business front. After dipping its toe in the robotic vehicle arena with Scout, an autonomous delivery robot, and collaboration with Embark, a self-driving truck startup, Amazon definitely seems interested in where the field is headed.

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"This is really about accelerating and delivering on our mission, which is to deliver self-driving technology safely, quickly and broadly", Urmson said in an interview.

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 raised $90 million in a funding round a year ago. For example, yesterday's funding round included Amazon, which could someday use autonomous vehicle technology "in a fulfillment center or on the road", it said in a statement. Aurora's platform Having no interest in building or operating fleets of self-driving vehicles, Aurora is partnering with automakers like Volkswagen, Hyundai Motor and Chinese-backed electric vehicle startup Byton to help develop their self-driving vehicles.

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