Amazon Invests in Self-Driving Car Startup Aurora Innovation


Additional investors included Lightspeed Venture Partners, Geodesic, Shell Ventures and Reinvent Capital.

But the crowded field is largely dominated by the top five companies with significant backing and funding: Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo unit, General Motors Co.'s Cruise unit, Zoox, Aurora and Ford Motor Co. -backed Argo AI.

Aurora, a startup tech company investing in self-driving vehicle technology, has announced that it has secured over $530 million in financing from a series of investors, including venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, money manager T. Rowe Price Associates, and e-commerce giant Amazon.

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

Aurora is led by Chief Executive Officer Chris Urmson, a former assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University who led development on Alphabet Inc.'s self-driving auto project. Aurora raised $90 million in a funding round past year.

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Sequoia led the Series B round of investment.

Amazon also announced a partnership with Toyota past year to explore different ways to use self-driving cars to deliver food. "It takes a while to see a payoff but when it does, it's pretty powerful".

Aurora has partnerships with Volkswagen and Hyundai but its technology could apply to vehicles beyond cars.

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. The executive team also includes Drew Bagnell, previously of Uber's Advanced Technologies Center, and Sterling Anderson, the former head of Tesla's Autopilot development program. It was joined by Inc., Wall Street heavyweight T. Rowe Price Group Inc. and a half-dozen other institutional backers. "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.