Amazon, Sequoia Invest in $2 Billion Self-Drive Startup Aurora

Jeannie Matthews
February 12, 2019

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. Aurora's leadership has a lot of experience in the automotive industry, too.

Aurora Innovation is developing a full self-driving program from soup to nuts, including hardware, software and data-collection and -distribution tech. Founded in 2016, the company is led by former Google Self-Driving Car Project chief Chris Urmson, Chris Urmson, one of the creators of Google's self-driving car project, Waymo, former Tesla autopilot chief, Sterling Anderson, and Drew Bagnell, a co-founder of Uber's self-driving car unit.

It forms part of $530 million (circa £408m) of funding secured from a group of backers including Amazon and companies such as fund management giant T Rowe Price. According to a new company blog post on Medium, Shell Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Geodesic are among the other parties aboard this fundraising round. Aurora raised $90 million in a funding round previous year.

Aurora a year ago received authorization to test autonomous vehicles in the state from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

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The company, which has operations in Silicon Valley and Pittsburgh, plans to use the influx of cash to speed development of its "Aurora Driver" technology and strengthen its team and network of partnerships.

For Aurora's Urmson, who has been working on the technology for more than a decade, this isn't a race: "We're clear with our investors that this is a long road", he said, "and at the end of that road is incredible impact on improving safety and mobility".

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.

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