Economy

Amazon moves into driverless cars with investment in U.S. start-up Aurora

Amazon moves into driverless cars with investment in U.S. start-up Aurora”

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) joined with capital venture firm Sequoia and T. Rowe Price Group Inc (NASDAQ: TROW) to invest $530 million in self-driving vehicle startup Aurora Innovation according to Aurora's press release on Medium. 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.

Aurora is among dozens of startups, automakers and large technology companies working on self-driving vehicle systems, eager to capitalize on a sea change in the transportation industry brought by developments in machine learning.

Sequoia led the Series B round of investment.

Much of the funding support Aurora Innovation has received is based on its executive leadership, all of whom have experience/expertise at other self-driving companies. Investments past year from the SoftBank Vision Fund and Honda Motor Co. pushed Cruise's valuation to $14.6 billion. Eschenbach will also be joining Aurora's board.

Early a year ago, it announced its first strategic partnership with Volkswagen Group to bring self-driving cars to market.

Self-driving cars are not just for people- the technology can also move goods. Yet it's Amazon's new financial interest in this company that's likely to spark the most interest: There have been murmurs that the e-commerce giant is interested in everything from self-driving delivery vehicles to new-car retailing, but the company has thus far remained low-profile in its movements. But the crowded field is largely dominated by the top five companies with significant backing and funding: Alphabet's Waymo unit, General Motors' Cruise unit, Zoox, Aurora and Ford-backed Argo AI.

"Autonomous technology has the potential to help make the jobs of our employees and partners safer and more productive", an Amazon spokesperson said to Bloomberg, "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 vehicle systems in package delivery or in its warehouses.



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