Saturday, 16 February, 2019

Amazon invests in self-driving auto startup Aurora

Self-driving ‘dream team’ at Aurora gets $530 million from Amazon and other investors Amazon enters self-driving car arena, invests in Aurora run by former Tesla execs
Ginger Lawrence | 08 February, 2019, 18:19

An Aurora self-driving Lincoln MKZ auto is seen outside the company's office in the Lawrenceville neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 21, 2018.

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. Embark also received significant funding from Sequoia previous year and has raised $47 million overall to date.

The fact that Aurora drew investment from Amazon, which hasn't made many high-profile moves into driverless vehicles, will invite speculation about the online giant's motivations. 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.

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. Co-founder Sterling Anderson was the head of Tesla's Autopilot program and was back in 2017 for allegedly taking information and engineers with him to his new company.

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Bloomberg also said that Aurora has partnered with Hyundai, Volkswagen and Chinese electric vehicle startup Byton, which has received recognition for its futuristic-looking cockpits and a focus on bringing autonomous hardware to market quickly. 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. The case eventually settled and Aurora paid Tesla $100,000.

"Autonomous technology has the potential to help make the jobs of our employees and partners safer and more productive, whether it´s in a fulfillment center or on the road, and we´re excited about the possibilities".

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

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