Published: Fri, February 08, 2019
Economy | By

Amazon invests in self-driving auto startup Aurora

Amazon invests in self-driving auto startup Aurora

Even if you're a vehicle buff, you may not have heard of Aurora Innovation, but with news that the company has raised in excess of $530 million from some major Silicon Valley players, you're likely to read about them a lot more from now on.

Sequoia led the Series B round of investment.

Thus far, Aurora has revealed that it is working with big-league automakers Hyundai and Volkswagen, as well as Chinese newcomer Byton, which has made a splash with its futuristic-looking cockpits and emphasis on bringing autonomous hardware to market quickly. Investments a year ago from the SoftBank Vision Fund and Honda Motor Co. pushed Cruise's valuation to $14.6 billion. 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. The startup has remained fiercely independent, cultivating partnerships with Hyundai, Volkswagen and Byton while designing a suite of software, hardware and data services created to support a range of automakers and transportation networks.

Aurora is also led by Sterling Anderson, who oversaw the development of Tesla's autopilot system, and Drew Bagnell, who helped lead Uber's self-driving unit. Even Waymo's robotaxi service in Arizona still has trained backup drivers inside. Amazon, a logistics and delivery behemoth, has shown interest in autonomous driving, recently launching a program to help developers test their own self-driving technology. The case eventually settled and Aurora paid Tesla $100,000., Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) joined with capital venture firm Sequoia and T. Rowe Price Group Inc (NASDAQ: TROW) to invest $530 million in self-driving vehicle startup Aurora Innovation according to Aurora's press release on Medium.

Back in 2017, the reported that Amazon had a team looking into ways to move all those Amazon products and packages in driverless cars.

Autonomous driving is one of the most capital intensive startup businesses, and such a large sum of money is critical for Aurora to remain competitive in a field crowded with well-funded players such as Alphabet Inc and General Motors Co.

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