Amazon invests in autonomous auto startup Aurora

10 February, 2019, 12:28 | Author: Brooke Harris
  • Lifestyle					Amazon enters self-driving car arena invests in Aurora run by former Tesla execs

As described by the Aurora team in a blog piece published on Medium, "Moreover, all Aurora-powered vehicles carry a common set of self-driving hardware and run the same self-driving software, allowing Aurora and its partners to benefit from the collective scale of all participants...learn [ing] from the combined experience of all vehicles on the platform".

The Series B financing raises Aurora's valuation to almost $2.5 billion according to TechCrunch.

Amazon is clearly keen on the idea of self-driving vehicles, not only having patented a highway network that controls self-driving cars and trucks, but also partnering with Toyota's fully autonomous, battery-electric e-Palette Concept Vehicle and unveiling a series of unmanned robot scouts to deliver goods to Amazon customers. Embark also received significant funding from Sequoia previous year and has raised $47 million overall to date.

Aurora Innovation is notable primarily for its leadership. It marks Sequoia's first investment in the self-driving auto industry, and comes after the firm spent years of studying more than 15 self-driving vehicle companies across the globe, Eschenbach said.

Many companies, however, have encountered technical challenges that have derailed their timelines to deliver self-driving cars and raised questions about the feasibility of deploying fleets of autonomous vehicles in crowded cities. The technical problems and regulatory hurdles that remain are numerous and tricky.

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"Over the last couple of years, we've met with more than 15 of the top autonomous vehicle companies from around the world", said Sequoia's Carl Eschenbach in an interview.

Aurora has kept a low profile and is in a more nascent research and development phase than some of its rivals. 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 said it now earns revenue through these partnerships, although it hasn't determined precisely how its business model will evolve once the technology is commercially ready.

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



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