Amazon Throws Its Hat Into Autonomous Driving Ring With Aurora Investment

Lloyd Doyle
February 8, 2019

The funding round for Aurora Innovation led by Silicon Valley venture capital powerhouse Sequoia reportedly valued the startup launched just two years ago at more than $2.5 billion. Sequoia Capital and T.Rowe Price were also major investors during the investment round, altogether signaling a vote of confidence in the self-driving competition now underway that Amazon apparently doesn't intend to miss out on.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon's investment in Aurora will help Amazon develop an autonomous supply chain network with self-driving vehicles to move packages and reduce the cost of deliveries. Aurora raised $90 million in a funding round a year ago. It marks Sequoia's first investment in the self-driving vehicle industry, and comes after the firm spent years of studying more than 15 self-driving auto companies across the globe, Eschenbach said.

Aurora's three founders are legendary within the tight community of roboticists and engineers who are leading the charge to make self-driving cars a reality. 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. Even Waymo's robotaxi service in Arizona still has trained backup drivers inside. 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.

While companies like Google (Waymo), Apple, General Motors (Cruise) and others have invested in autonomous vehicle technologies, Amazon has been absent from the scene.

Amazon did not reveal how much it had invested but said it could use driverless vehicle systems in package delivery or in its warehouses.

T. Rowe Price, another new investor in Aurora, is Tesla's second-largest shareholder after Chief Executive Elon Musk, according to Bloomberg data.

"We are always looking to invest in innovative, customer-obsessed companies, and Aurora is just that", Amazon said in response to an AFP inquiry.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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